The idea for Rubies in the Rubble came after visiting a wholesale fruit and veg market on my bike very early one frosty November morning in 2010. I discovered piles of unwanted fruit and veg – mange tout from Kenya, mangos from the Philippines, tomatoes from Turkey, cranberries for California – which all bypassed the bustle of traders and headed straight for the bin!
I then buried myself in researching food waste and discovered the scale of it and its implications, both environmentally and financially. I knew I had to act. And that’s why I started Rubies in the Rubble - A premium food brand making delicious products from fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded as a way of raising awareness about the need to cherish our food supply.
We now work direct with farmers to create a market for fruit and veg that is currently rejected due to aesthetic standards, or is simply supply and demand imbalances.
Put simply, we take the ripest or the oddly-shaped fruit and veg that currently don’t have a place in our supply chain and make our delicious relishes.
What was the first product you made and where did you get the recipe?
The first product I ever produced was the Spicy Tomato, and it’s still my favourite. I literally have it with everything. It’s best with eggs for breakfast. The recipe came from my mum but then, being a lover of spice, I started adding my own touches including roasting chillies and fennel before adding the mountain of fresh cherry toms and simmering it all down for hours.
How did you end up working with COOK?
I first heard of COOK through B Corp and first tried COOK through a friend who loved hosting and good food but couldn't cook! We have loved working with COOK. Everyone has a contagious passion for what they do and believe in the products they sell. They are definitely a company we want to grow with.
What’s your top preserving tip to share with our customers who make their own?
Making sure your jars are completely clean and sterile is a crucial part of making a good preserve that will continue getting better with time. After washing your recycled jars thoroughly in hot soapy water (or having put them through a cycle in the dishwasher), put them in the oven at 150C for 5 mins to sterilise them. Once cooled, hot fill your chutney / jam and lid.
Last but not least, in your opinion, what’s the one thing that would help us, as a society, to reduce food waste?
To start thinking of food as a treasured resource again - as something that we value too much to let go to waste. Currently our food supply system is hugely out of balance. Food waste has a huge carbon footprint and, with 1/3 of all we produce being wasted, it is not sustainable for us to continue wasting food at such a scale.
Rubies in the Rubble’s message is to treasure our resources and see all food as something precious to be treasured, to be eaten and celebrated.
Then, my one simple tip to help reduce food waste in your home, would be to use your freezer well. Most food freezes well (bread, milk, soup, stew, you name it) so there’s almost never a reason to waste in your home as you can just pop it in the freezer to have at another time. So next time you have leftovers, or some sorry looking veg, cook them up into a simple soup and pop them in the freezer to enjoy another day.