When We Started:
It all happens in a 1850s farmhouse in Columbia County in New York State. Our county is part of the Hudson Valley and we are only a mile up the road from the river. We buy all of our fruit locally or regionally because we are part of the Greenmarket in New York City. The Greenmarket was started over 35 years ago to ensure that small, regional farmers could stay in the business, city people would have fresh, locally grown food to buy as well as to preserve Farmland. Barry Benepe and Bob Lewis, founders of the Greenmarket, were very forward thinking men. They must have met a lot of resistance at that time since there were not many “foodies” around.
We started with Strawberry Jam and have developed over 90 flavors. The reason for so many varieties of two fold: first, I could not imagine making so much strawberry jam! How frustrating! It seldom set and we would never have anything to sell. And what a bore! Second, there are so many fruits grown in this region, I could not over look even the tiniest; the elderberry. We have tried lots of combinations over the years and are always willing to try new ones. Cherrycot and Raspyboyberry are two of my current favorite innovations. But the best and most popular is Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. A winner for all seasons!
The chutneys came into existence because I needed something to teach people about. In my research on jams, I kept running into chutneys. Being from the Mid-West originally, tartar sauce was pretty exotic to me. Chutney seemed interesting and what a great use of fruit and spices. My husband, Charlie, and I developed the Blazing Tomato Chutney. It has developed from Ketsup. In very Early America, at the end of the growing season, Ketsup was made from the tomatoes and apples, just as chowchow was made from vegetables at the end of the season. Ketsup even goes back farther to India and China. Enough of that history; lets get down to eating!
The other Chutneys developed through suggestions from friends, trials and many errors. We even taste test them at the Greenmarket when we have a new one in the works.
We brought in the Marmalade to round out the Jam selection. They belong there even if they are not locally grown.
The Pickles came along slowly, Dad wanted me to make Corn Relish, so BFK did. We needed Pepper Jelly for our cream cheese in 1983 but now it is Habanero Jelly with goat cheese. The natural offshoot of that is our foray into hot sauce. It is a crowded field but we enjoy making our varieties and the sampling we do is fun too. We are not inherently mean spirited, we warn people! (picture of sample jar with HOT on the stick)
We have an ongoing project with Cayuga Pure Organics. They are growing Mustard and selling the seeds to BFK to make Local Mustard from Local Mustard Seeds. We have been told this has not been done in New York State for well over 50 years. How about that!