Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Retiring Canned Products

I truly enjoy canning.  I love the process of creating something wonderful from scratch, something that will last for months or longer until I open it up to savor a flavor of something that was plentiful seasons ago.  I love playing around with recipes and trying out new ones.  For years, my mother in law made the stand famous with her pies and baked goods.  While I don't share her talent for baking, nothing is a bigger compliment to me than when someone says they stopped by just for my dill pickles or some carrot cake jam or any one of the products I work so hard to create.

Taking stock of what has been produced over the course of this year, I've made 9 kinds of jelly, 3 mustards, 2 salsas, various vegetable pickles using cucumbers, beets, beans and peppers, 6 vinegars, some assorted stuff like Bruschetta, Thai dipping sauce, prepared horseradish, or peach barbecue sauce, plus an assortment of dried herbs.  Now that the farm stand season is winding down to the final month, it's been on my mind to take stock and see if I want to continue all of them into next year.  

The answer is...no.

 Most of my canned products are the result of trying to preserve something I have a bounty of during the growing season.  If I have to buy all the ingredients, it may not make sense for me to expect to make a profit, especially when I factor in my time and now that I have built up a selection of recipes tailored just to what we grow.  (That's why, to the disappointment of some, I don't offer blackberry or elderberry jams...we don't grow those here!)  So that is a consideration.  The next is how time-consuming the process is, as the more involved it is the less time I can spend on the numerous other things I may need to be doing in the course of a day.  Some of the really messy or hard ones never even make it to the stand, as Dan and I will eat them when I know it's not a project I would look forward to doing again.  I had a recipe that made both blueberry butter and a blueberry ice cream sauce.   Both turned out to be delicious, but took forever, only produced a very few jars of each, and by the time I was done, everything in the kitchen was stained some shade of bluish-purple, especially me. Not a winning recipe in my book.  

But the final and most important test is whether they sell.  If my customers just aren't interested in them, it makes absolutely no sense to spend lots of time and materials making more of whatever it is. I know many folks don't want to spend their hard-earned money on something they've never heard of and might not like, so I have offered free samples of something or another all season long.  While I have a pretty good sense of what's being purchased since I work the counter every week, I also kept track of how much I made of each over the year.  If I only made a batch or two and still have most of it left, it's a good candidate for retirement.

So, I know you're curious, and yes, decisions have been made.  Fans of Carrot Cake Jam or Black Forest Preserves (chocolate & cherry flavored), don't worry.  It looks like these will be around a long, long time.  However, if you're a fan of the Gingered Pear Preserves or the Oriental Rhubarb Jam, you may want to stop by before the close of the season since you won't be seeing them in the spring. The pears don't really use much of anything produced here, even if they are tasty and not especially hard.  I can use up my rhubarb in the Orange-Rhubarb jam, which is much more popular.  This is the first time I've discontinued any of the products I make, and it is a little hard.  But I want to have room to find new recipes that I love and hope you will too!  So come by and stock up on your favorites now so you won't have to miss them over the winter, and be sure to check back next year to see what new things have been dreamed up in the meantime!

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Comments:

Dear Emily, I enjoyed reading this article. Amen! I, too, can everthing in sight, but sometimes I have as many as 35 recipes on our shelves, and there is only so many hours in a day to keep up with them! I recognized several of your specialy recipes: Black Forest Cherry and Thai Dipping Sauce. I've never sold the sauce, even though it's simple to make, because my extended family likes it so much that I never have much left over to make a decent sales display!

My favorite recipe that was eventually retired was Rhubarb Strawberry Conserve. It contained rhubarb, strawberries, oranges, pecans, etc. Very thick and yummy - my mom's favorite! But our customers really wanted plain jane Rhubarb Strawberry Jam. So after a few years of trying to get the conserve off the ground, we tabled the idea...

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your lament, and can truly relate to your sadness in letting a few recipes go by the wayside...

Posted by Sonya Staffan - The Jam and Jelly Lady on November 04, 2010 at 02:42 PM EDT #

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