In a previous article that outlined some great preserve business ideas one of those listed was jams.  Jams are extremely popular the world over. I could not tell you how many types of jams exist in the world but I will hazard to say there are at least thousands if not tens of thousands. You have so many options when it comes to jam ingredients with most of them being made from fruits that occur naturally in Zimbabwe and are relatively inexpensive. Depending on the contents of the jam the recipes are relatively simple and the methods used can be carried in a small home kitchen.  We will also talk about branding and export opportunities.


There is a little confusion as to what is exactly in the world of jams between conserves, jams and jellies. Conserves include both the pulp of the fruit and peels and are usually made from more than one element. Cherry almond jam is an example of this. Jam includes only the fruit pulp while jellies are strained of all the pulp from the fruit and are made from pure syrup or juice. In this article, we shall consider all jams as being equal.


To put together a jam you will need your source fruits and flavourings. Some jams can include herbs or spices like ginger and cinnamon. You will also include sugar and a substance called pectin. The pectin acts as a thickening agent and helps hold the contents together especially if you are creating a jelly. Pectin while available from suppliers of food processing ingredients may be hard to get your hands on in smaller quantities. In such cases, gelatin is a suitable substitute that you can find in smaller retail quantities which will prove useful in your early days as you enter the market.


A lot depends on the type of join you have chosen to make. That said the process for making jams is roughly the same. You will take your chosen fruits and other ingredients and either chop, dice or slice them. Thereafter you will add pectin and sugar and other flavours you may want to include such as spices. Then you will boil this mixture. Whether you chop dice or slice your fruits depends on whether you want a conserve, jam or marmalade respectively. In the case of a conserve, you will crush the boiled fruit and pectin mixture. If you intend to make a jelly you will blend and strain your fruit and pectin mixture. Finally for those making marmalades and other ough jams the fruit and pectin mixture is roughly mixed.


After your jam is cooked you will need to allow it to cool and once this is done you can then put it in storage. It is best to place the mixture straight into retail containers. You have a few options in terms of retail packaging but the most popular are glass and plastic with glass being the superior of the two. Make sure containers are sterilised before placing the contents in them and sealing them. If the jam requires some maturing you can mature it in the retail containers.


One of the most important things you can invest in for a business like this is branding. Yes by all means create a label and logo and slap it on all your products but more than that create a brand around your products. Create an identity and story. I stress this because the jam production business has very low barriers to entry and just as easy as it was for you to enter the market so it will be for prospective competitors. You need to create a metaphorical moat around your brand so you can defend your market share.


If you can make good jams, and I’m not saying you will probably do this off the bat but if you do you can look into the distribution of these jams locally and internationally. There is demand from all over the world and an incredible number of combinations that you can come up with. Some of the popular varieties in the world include grape, cherry, apricot, raspberry, gooseberry, melon, ginger, plum, pineapple, lemon and so many more. You can sell directly online which has become so much easier as you build a name and seek national and international distribution.

A lot of potential in this business and I really think we can come up with some interesting jams for the world out there. I’m still confident a Zimbabwean out there can make mazhanje (wild loquat) and/or madhorofiya (prickly pear) jam and pledge to be customer number one if someone figures this out.