Why do we Make so Many Kinds?

Can we all agree at the outset that making this many flavours is an insane business model?  Yes? You in the back.. oh.. you were just scratching your head.  Then why?

Making jam is fun.  It’s creative.  Once you have the basics down, and you must absolutely have the basics down as food safety is paramount, you begin to learn where you can tweak recipes, where you can add flavours, and generally, explore 50+ cookbooks for ideas for new and different jams. 

Making 60+ kinds is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, a customer can generally find something they like, after muttering to themselves wonderingly “there’s so much choice”.  On the other hand, not a day at the market goes by where a customer doesn’t ask for something I don’t make.  Something they can only get back home like cloudberry or bakeapple for people from Newfoundland.

To me, this tells me about the emotional connections we have with our regional foods.  And how homesick we can be for those foods.  Madeleines anyone? 

In selling at my booth at the Farmer’s Market in Millarville, I have learned that nostalgia plays a huge role in jam purchasing.  There are flavours and varieties that people love and cannot get in grocery stores.  Crabapple, chokecherry, and even grape jelly now.  I have heard a number of younger people say “No one makes jam for me anymore” and then talk about how their grandmother always sent them home with quarts of jam.  My own mother did this for us with apricot jam. 

I suppose that I love the creativity of the process, and the hunt for new things that are interesting.  I am also really interested in the reaction of customers to my new flavours.  This spring, I developed a vegan lemon curd.  Lemon curd contains eggs and butter and has to be sold as a fresh product.  I found a way to remove those two ingredients by adding coconut cream which preserved the signature creamy, rich texture.  I offered test samples and the reactions were very favourable.  I know it isn’t real lemon curd, but it isn’t grainy like ones made commercially and it tastes divine on its own merits. 

I also am very interested in the many things one can do with jams.  For instance, have you ever used a spoonful put in the bottom of a champagne flute and then filled the flute with 4 ounces of champagne?  No?  You should. 

Some are better with this cheese or that.  Some are good when used as glazes for fish or chicken.  Some are good in gravy.  Cumberland sauce cries out for Red Currant Jelly. 

 So at the end of the day, I like trying new flavours out, and I like providing customers with products that they may not be able to get anywhere else.  To me, that is at least one of the reasons people come to markets – to try new things. 

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