A Jar Preserves – Homemade Preserves Rooted In A Community Garden

December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I fell in love with these beautiful preserves at the farmers market this summer. Not only are they delicious,they are made with vegetables and fruit that are grown in community gardens and sourced from local farms. With many amazing flavours to choose from, it is hard to decide which ones to pick. After what seemed like 10 minutes, I choose the pear chutney and red onion relish. A Jar Preserves is owned by Marci and Sarah and was able to catch with Sarah and ask her a few questions about her business.

1. Can you tell me about a jar preserves?
We’re a Vancouver-based small-batch preserves company that uses special spice mixtures and traditional recipes to preserve fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables when they’re in season so they can be enjoyed year-round.

2. What inspired you to start this business?
Before we started a jar, Marci and I were both making a couple of chutney and pickle recipes that were popular with friends and family. One day on my way to work I had this inspirations that we should try selling products at the farmer’s market. When I called Marci that morning she was keen too. I’d just finished a Masters at SFU where I was studying the local food purchasing practices of Vancouver restaurants. I saw this a way to get involved in something that I’d spent so much time studying and thinking about.

It was kind of a lark. We really weren’t sure if we could get into the market, let alone if anyone would be interested buying our products. But now we’re heading into our second year this the fall – pretty exciting for us. We like the idea of sharing what we make with people who love food as much as we do. And we really like being part of the Vancouver Farmer’s Market where we’re able to offer products that are grown within the city limits or at least from the local food system.

3. Where do you get your veggies from?
The original idea was to use veggies from our community garden in Kits, but we soon realized we could do so much more if we bought from the farmer’s at the markets and from other local farmers. Most of our main ingredients are local and organic. The next step is to make connections specifically with urban farmers.

4. How did you come up with the recipes?
Quite a few of our recipes are based on traditional family recipes that we’ve tweaked and “modernized” as Marci puts it. She is the real genius behind the recipes. She gets super inspired and some weeks if there are lots of new products at the market we’ll have a couple new recipes to try.

5. How do you recommend eating the preserves?
We have about 15 different products, with a wide range of flavours, so the possibilities are endless. Chutneys, relishes and pickles are, of course, perfect combos with crackers and cheese, but you can also get quite creative. Marci’s favourite is the apple rhubarb chutney on vanilla ice cream. I can eat a whole bowl of the cucumber relish mixed with yogurt (a twist on a traditional raita). I’ve also used the tomato relish to make a sweet and sour tomato sauce for baked tofu. The orange pickled pumpkin is delicious with a cranberries, goat cheese and pecan salad. Chutneys and relishes are so versatile. I think it’s the sweet, tanginess that allows you to add them to almost anything.

You can find A Jar Preserve at the Vancouver Farmers Market on Dec 15, 2012,  Feb  23 and April 20, 2013. You can contact them directly for sales at A Jar Preserves.

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