The story of Natural Preserves started back in 2017, well in reality it was much earlier, a culmination of experiences through our lifetime, but we will spare you the details for now. We were foraging a little bit to pick a few things for ourselves, some wild mint to dry for teas and wild apricots, our favourite fruit. We will never forget that year, 2017 it was the last great harvest of wild apricots we had ever picked, if you’ve never tasted them they’re sweet and very sour, but we had picked far too much to eat. So we started experimenting, we made a fermented apricot paste and a few jars of jam. We wanted to preserve the amazing flavour and very short season these amazing fruits have. The jam was good, but we didn’t know enough about the science of jam making at the time to make an amazing jam and we knew this, so we began to study how to make the best jam ever for ourselves.
It eventually became an obsession, we set out to preserve anything that was wild, edible, and delicious especially if it had a short season. We would ferment, pickle, dry, cure, brine, candy or preserve anything in every way imaginable just to see what worked best. We took the next 3 years to test out recipes, keep in mind that things like wild asparagus have a short 3 week season and sometimes experiments would only yield results after a few months, if they failed we would need to try something new the year after. Obviously, they didn’t only need to work but they had to taste great, not good but amazing, something we strive to do with every menu, they also had to be safe, thank God for the patience of the laboratory we work with.
Anyway during these three years we started to realise weather patterns and what to look for, wind directions, temperatures, rainfall, the bacteria and fungi in the soil, humidity patterns, really the overall terroir. In a strange way we learnt what to look for, when to look for it and their (the wild plants and fungi) preferred conditions, we got to know the ingredient, from top to bottom. While spearfishing or fishing we began noticing patterns, times, quality markers and behaviours of the fish and shellfish we were catching, watching them in their habitat and again understanding the ingredients in their natural environment. Even on the family farm, we began noticing little things that help the plants grow, we would then sit down and have discussions with scientist or farmers asking them even more just so we could learn.
This we feel grew into a deep respect towards nature, we began to understand the complexity first hand as to how nature, with the slight help of human interaction can create amazing flavours, flavours that we are lucky enough to be able to preserve for a long time. We ate everything and anything, testing and trying and retesting. The obsession on quality keeps on growing till today, imagine, we have been testing tomatoes for the last 2 years, simply to just try and make the best sundried tomatoes we can !! We looked at 37 varieties over all 4 seasons, recording skin thickness, solid mass, free water content, salt percentages, acidity, brix content, the whole shebang, nature has the answer you just need to look hard to find the best.
In 2019 we then started producing and selling to some of the best restaurants on the island, but then in 2020 the pandemic hit, and we had to look at how we wanted to move the business forward. How we can translate our knowledge, our connection to nature to the everyday person and so in August of 2020 we opened for business to the public. Although we do still sell to restaurants, everything from Michelin starred restaurants, hotels, shops and cafeterias.
We always said from day one, that our goal is to translate our journey, our connection of nature to you, to create new, upscale and fascinating flavours, using nothing but the best local produce and helping to prove that Maltese food its absolutely fascinating and most of all delicious. We never wanted to just sell food, instead we use food as a universal language to translate nature at its finest.