Stimulating New York Jams, Jellies and Chutneys
>> This past week the Fed officially announced that the USA (if not the world) was in a recession, with all thoughts now turned to stimulating the economy.
To me, the word "stimulating" means that our efforts should result in the nation tasting, smelling, feeling and looking better. If that's what it takes to improve our fiscal outlook, then we need to examine the business practices of people like Beth Linskey and the Jammers of Beth's Farm Kitchen.
In the early 1980s, Beth (a caterer) moved to Stuyvesant Falls, New York from Manhattan, only to find that there were no jobs. Fortunately, Beth was neither willing to accept "no" as an option or opportunist enough to ask the Wall Street Banking establishment for a multi-million dollar advance.
Instead, she concentrated on the State of New York's strengths (farming), researched the Greenmarket organization as a way of attracting customers and evaluated her own talents. Strange as it may seem to financial masters, this method worked and her business, which was based on the local economy, has been successful from the start.
Using her narrow, multi-story Victorian home as a country kitchen, she hired neighbors, cooked up batches of jams, jellies and chutneys and sold it all in nearby communities. This resulted in increased personal contacts, with only photocopied flyers (and now a website) for promotional expenses.
Beth, who's said to have some resemblance to her West Highland Scottish Terrier, is not a hobbyist, although her business promotes fun. She continuously researches historical receipts through the New York Library system, perfecting them in experimental batches. When you visit her stand, always ask "what's new," followed by "whatever made you think of that?" for an interesting answer.
Certainly, time-proven treats filled with berry and fruit chunks are a key ingredient for a successful business, but Beth enriches the eye as well as the pallet. Upon request, you can have any jar beautifully gift wrapped, something you never see in a grocery store, no matter how upscale.
Of course, you'll find it a pleasure visiting her appealing stand loaded with homemade products, but here's why you should seek her out: Beth's Farm Kitchen always provides a jam tasting panel of up to 50 jars at a time! Spread jam on the bread she supplies, or be prepared, bring your own and maybe a cup of coffee, too. Tasting is not only believing, it's stimulating.
I started buying Beth's jams during the early morning rush at the former World Trade Center Greenmarket. I eat them conventionally, plus have whipped up my own variations:
- Cut jam into softened cream cheese, mix with chopped nuts, and spread on high quality bread or bagels.
- Use as a base for smoothies: Take a heaping quarter cup of jam and blend with a half cup of milk (skim or regular). Once blended, add a cup of non-sweetened yogurt and three-quarters cup additional milk. Blend again. Incredible!
- Use as a topping on ice cream (tastes like pie a la mode). You might want to blend it slightly with a sprinkle of water if you prefer syrup.
- Use as a topping on pound cake.
- Toss with fresh chopped nuts and use as a topping on ice cream or other deserving dishes.
- Use as a topping on any cream cheese desert. Greatly improve the quality of freezer-chest cheese cake!
- Whip some up in milk (skim or regular) using a stick-type mixer. Add malt powder for a sinfully delicious drink.
- Use the pickled beans for "Beanie Martinis." OK, I don't do that, but I understand that the Grange Hall Restaurant on Commerce Street does.
Diabetics and people who cannot eat sugar are in luck. The "Fulla Fruits" jars are filled with pure fruit butter or spreads that contain no concentrated juices, sugar or artificial sweetener. Unlike the jams and jellies, these have a short shelf life that is just a little longer than that of fresh fruit. If you're interested, call to ask what varieties are available and order ahead if you have favorites.
Beth also makes a wide variety of chutneys, which complement meat dishes, especially sausages. All of her recipes are historically based, however, she uses the English preparation method (sugar and vinegar), rather than East Indian (salt and vinegar). At first bite, you'll sense a sharp, sweat/sour tang followed by increased salivation. After that, if you're like me, you'll make sure that there is enough chutney on your plate to accompany every additional bite of meat.
Visit Beth's Farm Kitchen in New York's Greenmarkets on Thursday at Borough Hall in Brooklyn, and Friday and Saturday at Union Square.
Her products are also sold in several of New York's gourmet grocery stores, the best known of which is Dean & Deluca, at Prince Street and Broadway. For cheese, jelly and crackers, check out the Ideal Cheese Shop at 942 1st Avenue.
You'll find a list of outlets, products and an order form on www.BethsFarmKitchen.com or call 1-800-331-5267 and ask for a photocopied brochure. Note that the full line of products is not listed. You need to visit her stand in person in order to grasp the variety, especially those products that Beth and the Jammers just feel like making that week.
No matter what, if the fruit is grown in the New York region, someday it'll wind in one of Beth's Farm Kitchen 8 or 16 ounce Mason jars, waiting to stimulate you and the economy. Do your patriotic duty and buy!
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 12/2/2001. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.