Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, there are plenty of gorgeous hill stations to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Yet, we’d recommend you forget these and instead visit the remote village of Bhuira in Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district. What does the hidden gem, Bhuira have to offer? Apple, apricot, peach, plum, strawberry and cherries orchards. The renowned Bhuira Jams, a factory that produces jams, chutneys and marmalades, started by British Indian woman, Linnet Allfrey has put the village on the map. This jam factory provides employment to scores of women in the village and generates a revenue of around ₹2 crores annually. Here’s everything you need to know about Linnet Allfrey and her company, Bhuira Jams.
Linnet Alfrey Buys A Himachal Cottage With Fruit Orchards In 1992
Linnet Alfrey was born in New Zealand to a German mother and British father. The English girl was raised in Somerset, UK. But her connection to India was nothing short of a romance novel. She met her husband, Viney Mushran, a Kashmiri boy at a college in Scotland. The couple married and moved to India in 1966. Linnet gave her heart and soul to India. She became fluent in Hindi, wore sareees and enjoyed cooking Kashmiri Pandit food. She lived in the jungles of Bihar and lanes of Delhi and Mumbai. In 1992, Linnet Mushran and her husband visited a relative’s charming cottage in the hills of Himachal. The rose-covered cottage nestled among orchards in Bhuira instantly tugged at her heartstrings. Linnet and Vinay soon bought the house with an acre of orchard.
She Prepared Fruit Jams From Mother’s Recipes To Prevent Wastage Of Fruits
For Linnet it was truly amazing to stay in a gorgeous cottage facing the hills, surrounded by peach, apricot, plum, apple and kiwi trees. But she was very concerned about the huge amount of produce that went to waste due to the monkey menace and heavy winds. Pained by the wastage, she decided to make apple jellies from the fallen apples using her mother’s traditional recipes. Linnet shared her freshly made apple jellies with the neighbourhood. And they instantly became a hit. The neighbourhood ladies and villagers encouraged to set up a jam business. In 1999, she set up the first jam factory in Bhuira.
Setting Up Bhuira Jams Factory & Challenges That Came With It
Setting up a jam factory in a remote village like Bhuira atop a hill isn’t an easy task. In an interview with Tarini Sood, 79-year-old, Linnet Alfrey revealed that poor planning on her part in the beginning was itself an obstacle, Apart from that, she revealed that making jam at home and preparing it in a factory with a shelf life are two totally different things. Bhuira nested atop a hill often faced shortage of electricity or piped gas that was a hindrance to the functioning of the factory. It would have been definitely easier to prepare jam on plains instead of hills.
There wasn’t enough cold storage to preserve the seasonal fruits either. Yet, Linnet Alfrey and the folk of Bhuira overcame these obstacles and rose above them. Today, the all-women Bhuira Jam factory offers 48 varieties of products from 75 tonnes of fruits, churning ₹2 crores of revenue annually. The factory gives hygiene top priority and its daily production goes up to 850 bottles.
Delicious Jams With Zero Preservative & 100 Percent Fresh Ingredients
According to a Readers Digest article, to gather the unique ingredients for the jam, the Bhuira ladies are given few days in summer to go roam and pick fresh ingredients to make a special edition of jam. Wild yellow raspberries and ephemeral hisalu feature in their jams during the summer season. Bhuira jams are 50 percent whole fruit without any preservatives used. It’s just how homemade jams should be. Linnet and her team use just lemon juice, apple juice and sugar to set the preserves in the traditional manner.
When it comes to their signature bottles, Bhuira Jams prides itself over the apple jelly. This has remained a constant favourite. With a dash of cinnamon, mint or ginger, the apple jelly is made from Linnet’s mother’s traditional recipe. Anogther bestseller is the surprising Bengali tomato chutney. In a documentary titled ‘Out of a Jam’, Linnet names apricot jam her favourite and the Bhuira ladies working in the factory reveal cape gooseberry, guava jelly, black cherry and grapes are some of their loved flavours.
Empowering Women In Bhuira In The All-Women Factory
Locals of Bhuira take immense pride in the delicious jams named after the remote village of Himachal Pradesh. Interestingly, like we mentioned earlier, Bhuira Jams is an all-women factory. Linnet Alfrey stated to Hill Post that from the beginning she found women were more honest. And in 16 years of opening her jam factory, there has never been one incident of any women cheating on her. She employs around 100 women in her factory who are not just good at jam making but great managers as well. None of these women studied past class 5 but they are quick learners. They now handle the factory behind her back and are also adept in working with computers and laptops.
Sarita Devi, a manager in-charge of Bhuira Jams factory stated to The Better India, that when they first started working in the factory, most women never had any cash in hand. They depended on their husbands to provide for them. Working at the factory has helped the village women improve their lifestyle. They are independent and can also provide a better education for their kids. They own washing machines, have dish antennas, and regular electricity. Linnet empowered the women in her factory. She bought them digital watches, pressure cookers, irons and cameras to help them lead a good life. Over time the women banded together and formed a support group to help each. Moreover, local farmers also benefitted multifold as their fruits are bought at a better price than the market.
The Legacy Of Bhuira Jams Continues
79-year-old Linnet Alfrey started Bhuira Jams in 1999. Today her legacy is carried forward by her daughter-in-law Rebecca. She handles marketing and also created a website for the company. Linnet stated to The Better India that Rebecca is the future and modern face of Bhuira Jams. Rebecca’s online marketing added special value. Her son-in-law Karan takes care of accounting. He also delivers workshops for women to train them on product efficiency.
Rebecca and Karan are the future of Bhuira Jams who proudly carry forward Linnet Alfrey’s legacy. Bhuira Jams which started as an initiative to prevent fruits grown in Himachal Pradesh from going to waste, has put the remote village on the map. Tourists flock to Bhuira to have a glimpse of the jam factory and purchase freshly made jams. Infact a resort has also been constructed to house the growing number of tourists in Bhuira.
Where To Buy Bhuira Jams From In India?
If you’re wondering where you can grab a bottle of Bhuira Jams from, then let’s tell you that they are available on Amazon, Big Basket, Simpli Namdhari, CostBo and retail brands like Pepperfry, Fabindia and others. Some of the bestsellers online include the seasonal blackberry jam, tomato chutney, strawberry preserve, bitter orange marmalade, Kashmiri bichua and black cherry preserve. Rebecca informed The Better India that in recent years, many customers started demanding sugar-free products.
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So, Bhuira Jams has started replacing sugar with apple and pear juice concentrate. Their sugar free products currently include strawberry jam and marmalade. They will add more suagr-free products like blueberry jam. Well, Bhuira Jam is not just a jam. It’s the story of a British Indian woman who empowered women in Bhuira, created delicious preservative-free jams from her mother’s recipes and gave tourists many reasons to visit Bhuira.