MiVT: Blake Hill Preserves
It isn't just for toast anymore. A Windsor company is using fruits, vegetables and spices to create its Made in Vermont culinary jam.
Vicky Allard says the success she and her husband Joe are experiencing with their company, Blake Hill Preserves, is a bit of a fairy tale. "It's nothing that we planned," she said.
Growing up in England, Allard says her family spent summers picking local fruits to make jams. She moved to the U.S. in 1999 and settled on a farm in Grafton, Vermont, a few years later thanks to the recommendations of friends. It was also a friend that snuck some of her jam to a local village store without her knowledge. "And the rest, as they say, is history," Allard said.
Blake Hill Preserves moved to their facility in Windsor in 2016. They're part of an industrial park featuring other artisan businesses. The jam kitchen has everything they need to produce various flavors and sizes.
"Today we are making some marmalade. So, this will give us around 600 jars," Allard explained.
There are no artificial flavors and sweeteners. Several local farms, like Honey Field in Norwich, that provide the fresh fruits and vegetables "Vermont has a short growing season, but when it's here, the produce is just incredible," Allard said. "These are going to go into a strawberry and wild rose jam."
There are 40 different varieties of Blake Hill Preserves that are divided into more than seven collections. From Botanical, which is with hand-forged edible floral's from Blake Hill, to savory and spicy, which brings together some roasted garlic, caramelized onion and is perfect for cooking, grilling, and cheese pairings.
"We love the creative side of the business. We love using the very best ingredients," Allard said.
Blake Hill Preserves has partnered with its neighbor down the road, Artisan Eats, and once a week they release an installment of their recipe series "Cooking with Jam." And if you order Blake Hill Preserves, you have the option of taking some recipe cards home with you.
"We're making a breakfast-style pizza. We're going to be using the tomatillo and jalapeno jam for this one," said Livia Ferraz.
"I try to incorporate a lot of Blake Hill into the work I do, because it's all so flavorful and delicious, but I can be able to tell my customers that 'Hey, you can actually be able to purchase this item,'" said Jenny Williams with Artisan Eats.
"It's about where our passions are, where our heart is for what we're creating. And I think people appreciated that it almost provides that little additional sort of integrity to the business," Allard said.
From an unexpected start at local farmers' markets, to a fully occupied artisan park, the story of Blake Hill Preserves continues to spread.