‘I trained as a chef in the United States and first created my original jelly range there using a recipe from a friend’s grandmother. Savoury jellies are very popular in the States. We have a strong heritage of making them in Ireland too in more traditional flavours like Mint Jelly or Apple and Sage Jelly. I lived in Washington DC and first sold my jellies at the famous Eastern Market on Capital Hill.‘Then I came back to Ireland. I really missed home. I found a fabulous building in Tralee and I thought, I’ll open a restaurant there, serving really good food and using my expertise from the States. I did that and made it into one of the best restaurants in Kerry – we were listed in Les Routiers every year, and when the French say you’re good, you really have to take it as a compliment.’
‘Ten years is a long time to own a restaurant and run a kitchen and run a restaurant at the same time, in what was a 100-seater restaurant (probably sheer madness). So at the end of that decade, I went back to my original roots as a jelly maker, taking my experience of the market in Washington DC and applying it, first to the local markets in Kerry, then moving outwards across the country. I’ve done markets and festivals the length and breadth of the country, from Donegal to Waterford and Bloom Festival to the Harvest Festival at Lissadell House.
‘I love artisan food markets, they are in my bones. I love the other food producers and how passionate and supportive they are, I love meeting people who love food and who tell you what they think. Those people are honestly one of the main reasons that my jellies have been a success and that I am now in the large supermarkets. They taught me how to make my jellies better, what new flavours to bring in, how to package them so that the label clearly says what to do with them.
‘And the delicatessens and fine food shops who showed faith in me, without them I wouldn’t have got a start. Sometimes when a product reaches the supermarket shelves, producers forget who got them there. But I am so grateful to every small shop who stocks my jellies and to every person who ever bought – or buys – a jar of Harty’s Jelly. Without them, I just wouldn’t be here.
‘And I must mention the awards Harty’s Jellies have achieved. Sometimes people underestimate the power of a food award – but not us. Our jellies have been blind-tasted in every award from Bridgestone Guide to John and Sally McKenna’s Guides to the UK Great Taste Awards. Just imagine your jar, with no label on it, and total strangers tasting it. (Well I say strangers but they are ‘expert’ strangers.) They know what they like and regard based on experience and when you get an award based on that criteria and tasting process, you have to say, that means something. Someone who doesn’t even know you and they say your product is worth buying. But more importantly, they say your product is worth someone spending money on in a food store or supermarket and that it is made with love and care. That is really something. (Read more about our awards here.)
‘I really hope you like my website and maybe want to try my jellies. People often ask what a jelly is, as if it’s something very different. But it’s not, it’s just a wobbly condiment, packed with lots of flavour. Use it instead of mayonnaise, mustard or any other thing you add to meat or cheese or vegetables to make them taste better. Once you try our jellies, after taking the first spoonful, you’ll want to go back and take another spoon. It really is that delicious. You won’t be able to do without it.
‘When you have another dull sandwich for lunch, and think, what can I do to make this more interesting, reach for a Harty’s Jelly. Or when you think you have really seen enough chicken breasts for a lifetime, add a spoon of our Apple and Sage Jelly or any of our Hot Pepper Jellies, and you’ll see why we’ve been such a success. Or when you have a fried pork or lamb chop on a Tuesday night, and think, how lucky are we to have a lovely home-cooked meal mid-week, reach for a spoon of Harty’s Jelly and you’ll feel even luckier, I promise!
‘And you haven’t lived, really, until you have placed a spoon of our jelly on a plate with a sausage. Or in a sausage or bacon sandwich, or just as good, serve with scrambled or poached eggs for a weekend brunch. Why should you deprive yourself? Life is short.
We are forever grateful to our customers at the artisan food markets who have been one of the backbones of our success and helped us to get where we are. We are regulars at food markets and festivals all over the country. Watch our blog posts for news.
Our online shop delivers to Ireland and Northern Ireland.