Katrina Ashford grew up surrounded by good home-cooked food.
“My grandfather was a gardener and I remember as a child seeing my mother and grandmother making jams, pickles and all kinds of preserves from what he grew,” the man said. 58 years old.
Katrina, from Moss-side near Nairn, runs the famous canning company Rose Cottage Country Kitchen.
Starting out as a hobby business in 2000, Katrina took it on full-time in 2019 after undergoing cancer treatment.
The experience left the entrepreneur with a different outlook on life and ultimately led her to choose the evolving business over a career in journalism.
“I decided I wanted to do something that I really love,” she added.
“Last year Rose Cottage’s turnover doubled, so I know I made the right choice.”
The company sells a range of artisan preserves, including jams, jellies, marmalades and chutneys, all produced in Katrina’s purpose-built kitchen.
And I’ll be focusing on Rose Cottage Country Kitchen in the latest episode of my series Getting Ready for a Farmer’s Market with….
A family of pastry talents
“I remember burning my chin when I tried to look at the cooker to see what they (my mum and grandma) were doing – and I got no sympathy for it” , she added.
“My grandfather, Bill Mackay, was born and died at Rose Cottage and I’m proud to be the fifth generation of my family living in such a beautiful place.”
The business owner shared her admiration for the baking skills of her family, which includes her grandmother, Jean Mackay, and her mother, Jean Bagshaw.
Katrina has always given her four children homemade cakes and now also makes them for her grandchildren, as well as for people outside the immediate family.
But in terms of what Rose Cottage Country Kitchen offers customers, it’s all preserved.
Katrina however also makes festive puddings and cakes.
Rose Cottage Country Kitchen
All products are made to traditional recipes using no artificial ingredients and locally grown fruit in Wester Hardmuir, Black Isle Berries and Kiltarlity.
Additional items like citrus fruits and spices are sourced from independent companies whenever possible.
Katrina also receives produce from a “lovely pensioner” at a farm near Dingwall, who grows several unusual fruits, including boysenberries and green plums, and her own garden.
“This year I started working on improving the garden to increase the locally grown element,” she said.
Farmers Markets Nearby: Interactive map of events in the Highlands, Islands and Moray
“The rhubarb patch was planted by Grandpa, so God knows how old the crowns are – probably around 50 years old.
“They need to be split and moved, but this year I started the project by purchasing more organic wreaths from Huntly Herbs.”
The company has won several awards over the years.
Best traditional marmalade at last year’s Marmalade Awards, a number of Great Taste Awards and a silver medal at the World Jampionships are among them.
“The order book is full to bursting”
Katrina currently makes around 600 pots a week and has summer shows in addition to markets to prepare as well.
She frequents Farmers Markets in Nairn, Grantown, Kingussie and some in Elgin.
As for other events, Rose Cottage Country Kitchen will be present, among others, at the Sutherland Show, the Nairn Show and the Black Isle Show.
Katrina spends nearly 40 hours a week making her preserves.
“I probably bring about 350 to 400 jars to a market,” she said.
“I don’t expect to sell, although it has come close a few times. The booth has a large table space and I find you need to keep it busy.
Katrina says farmers’ markets are “pretty comprehensive,” but admires them for many reasons.
“You do all week thinking about your event(s), but you also place orders in stores,” she added.
“Market day itself is a lot of work; my products are not light and there is loading and unloading to consider. Also, some events I attend are in my own gazebo, and this thing is heavy to carry in my position.
“But I like going out and meeting people.
“The other merchants are fantastic, everyone is friendly and I’ve met so many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“I try to have a weekend off every month. There’s always some catching up to do – and those grandkids need a hug too!
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[Rose Cottage Country Kitchen owner shares fond food memories]