Here at Unicoi Preserves, we talk about connections a good bit. Our business started out of a desire to produce a product from things we could source locally. It is important to have a connection to where your food comes from. That holds true in our products, but also in our lives as well. When we aren’t slinging jelly, I am personally involved as the project coordinator for Yonah Preserve Trails, a proposed 20+ mile natural surface, multi-use trail system that our volunteer group, Northeast Georgia SORBA is building in our adopted home county. We are currently building out Phase 1 and Phase 2, which will give us our first 7 miles of trail. Since I am the coordinator on this project, I have had the pleasure of working very closely with our professional trail builder, Preston York, of Flowmotion Trail Builders. He is an avid outdoorsman, and recently went to Alaska on a trip. He of course went fishing while he was there, and happened to bring back some delicious wild caught salmon.
This is where I come in. Since Preston is working here and calls Alabama home, he is a bit out of his element when it comes to cooking things. He has happily discovered my love of our Big Green Egg, and has asked me on several occasions to prepare things he provides, which I am more than happy to do. Preston brought us several pieces of beautiful salmon, which I prepared for dinner for all of us.
I used a rub from Meat Church to season the fish called Honey Hog. It is has honey powder and some spice that pairs well with fish. I also have a connection to the owner of this particular rub company, as he comes to Atlanta to teach BBQ classes at Big Green Egg Culinary Center and I have helped with his classes and have become friends with Matt through those classes.
I placed the salmon on locally sourced Western Red Cedar planks from my good friend Tommy Joe Conner, who owns Pappy’s Cooking Planks and also happens to be a hell of a guitar player and singer.
Once the salmon were almost done, I glazed them with some of our Apple Cider Pepper Spread and allowed that to caramelize a bit. While I was cooking these, it hit me that I had a personal connection to every part of the dish. I know everyone behind each of the products used to make the meal. Preston provided the fish, Matt provided the rub, Tommy Joe provided the planks, and I provided the spread. It’s these kind of connections that we try to demonstrate through the ingredients we choose to put in our spreads, and sometimes it just happens to work out in other ways as well. I encourage you to give this simple recipe a try, it is beyond delicious.
“NEVER DOUBT THAT A SMALL GROUP OF THOUGHTFUL, COMMITTED CITIZENS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD; INDEED, IT’S THE ONLY THING THAT EVER HAS.” MARGARET MEAD
Our hearts today are very full and we are humbled by the wonderful, supportive community we call home. Our Shrimp and Grits fundraiser dinner for Yonah Preserve Trails was an overwhelming success. Thank you to everyone that supported our event through the purchase of a dinner, the donation of silent auction items, phone calls, texts, social media sharing and hugs. Hugs are important.
We are always humbled by the generosity of our community, friends and family. We over sold the event, managed to squeeze everyone in and put a Good Enough plate in front of them. Thanks again to Sheilah Welsch and her wonderful staff at Village Market for spearheading the silent auction, organizing the event, being awesome, agreeing to host this fundraiser and being awesome. Sheilah is awesome. We are so grateful to everyone that helped make this event such a huge success.
We can’t wait to show the you the beautiful and sustainable trails that FlowMotion Trail Builders are creating for us. If you missed out on the dinner and would like us to cook our Good Enough Shrimp and Grits with Candied Bacon for your family, friends or group, please get in touch with Suzy and she’ll be happy to discuss our Private Chefs for the Trail dinners.
Decatur is Greater
Decatur is greater! We spent the past two weekends in Decatur, GA and had such a fun time spreading our mountain grown goodness to the Atlanta area.
The AJC Decatur Book Festival is a two day event on the historic downtown square in Decatur, GA. Celebrating its 11th year, this is the largest independent book festival in the United States. The festival is family friendly, diverse and well organized, with authors from around the world.
Our booth was part of the Georgia Grown pavilion and we enjoyed catching up with AmericasMart alums from Oliver Farm and Pecan Ridge Plantation, as well as Natalie from Chinese Southern Belle and Georgia Grown Executive Chef Holly Chute.
Rusty Bowers from Pine Street Market was nearby under the Big Green Egg tent with several Eggs fired up and was assisted by friends from the Big Green Egg Culinary Center.
They kept the Eggs going all weekend with Springer Mountain Farms Chicken, Pine Street Market Bacon, okra, peaches and some other things that smelled heavenly. The Culinary Stage hosted a few of my favorite cookbook authors but spread duty called so I missed Marissa McClellan but caught a few minutes of Peter Reinhart. Earth Fare from Emory Point was there with a delicious assortment of cheese as well.
We stayed busy fixing samples and talking with people, so I don’t have many pictures to share with you, nor do I have a report on the other authors and events that were there. I would definitely recommend you attend next year based on our experience there though.
The weekend following the Book Festival, we participated in the Locals Pop Up Market in The Cook’s Warehouse in Decatur. This foodie paradise has every kitchen item you could ever want, and we joked with each other that it was important not to spend more then we sold that day. If you’ve never shopped The Cook’s Warehouse, put them on your To Do List, and your Santa List! With three locations and cooking classes, its a culinary destination.
Decatur, we love you and thank you for a great couple of weekends. We look forward to coming back soon and sharing more of our mountain goodness with you.
AmericasMART - a First Time Vendor's Perspective
AmericasMART is one of the largest permanent wholesale trade centers in the world located in downtown Atlanta, there are four skyscrapers, some connected to each other with tubes, elevators, escalators and over seven MILLON square feet of showroom space. Wrap your head around those numbers. Mind boggling, especially to a couple of mountain folks like us.
Being members of Georgia Grown has opened many doors for us, and when they came knocking with the opportunity to be in their booth at AmericasMart, we saw it as a big opportunity. Exhibiting in the Georgia Grown booth, we were at a huge advantage because we didn’t have the expense of building out and transporting a booth set up, we were simply responsible for our table in the booth. Such a fantastic way to experience AmericasMart for the first time. Thank you Georgia Grown for providing great opportunities to your membership!
Our products pair with cheese and entertaining, so we partnered with Georgia Crafted to showcase their Georgia made cheese boards and we had a delicious display
We met people from all over the state, drawn in by the Georgia Grown backdrop. But we also met people from as far away as Alaska, Russia, California, New York, North Dakota. We are still shipping orders to far away states and are tickled to have had such a warm welcome from buyers.
Everyone who is at AmericasMart is required to register, and wear an ID badge that shows their name, business, state and if they are an exhibitor or buyer. We met people there from both national and local media, buyers from large and small gift shops, gift companies, florists, designers, corporations looking for gifts. If they buy wholesale, they come to AmericasMart! Our booth was in the gourmet food section of the temporary area (there are permanent showrooms there too) and everybody samples their products, so its quite the foodie destination.
There is an army of staff at AmericasMart and every single employee I encountered was both helpful and friendly. There was one day I went upstairs to buy lunch, and got lost trying to find my way back to our booth. Getting lost seems to be a pretty common occurrence, because I ran into Valerie who was there with her husband Clay from Oliver Farm and she was lost too! Luckily, we found a helpful employee who told us how to get back to the temporaries floor. Clark lost his car on the first day, so it wasn’t just me. Clark is the guy who can bushwhack up the side of Mount Yonah, remember every single detail about a mountain bike trail and is the finder of lost stuff, including an iPhone out in a field (don’t ask). All concrete parking structures look alike.
In the sea of people, there were also familiar faces that stopped by. The Pioneer Woman’s BFF, Hyacinth and her daughter Meg came by, checking out merchandise for The Mercantile. Hy and Meg were quite gracious and humored me by posing for goofy photos
Local friends stopped by as did some of our great retail partners. Clark and I both have high school friends at AmericasMart, my friend Tammy was there as well as Clark’s friend Jimbo. We also had some of Clark’s cousins stop by.
It was a big undertaking, a bit stressful at times, exhausting and rewarding. I can’t wait to go back again in January
Greatness starts in the field
Greatness starts in the field
To make something great, you have to start with something great.
Its been a dry summer so far here in north Georgia wine county, but the grapes are coming along nicely and the vineyard managers are hoping for a great harvest.
We have simple recipes, with ingredients you can pronounce, so its really necessary to start with great fruit. Staying true to our core beliefs, all of our products are made from fruit that grows in our region
We’re fortunate that that the mountains of Georgia are the perfect climate for a variety of wine grapes and we get to enjoy watching the vines change throughout the year and sometimes even help our winery friends at the
Our Vineyard Spread and Vineyard Fire are both made with Chambourcin that we source from a local winery here on the Unicoi Wine Trail. Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid grape and grows well in our region.
For a true Georgia mountain entertaining experience, serve Vineyard Fire with soft and creamy goat cheese, and a local wine from one of the many vineyards here in our area. Our current local crushes, pun intended, are Habersham Winery 2014 Chambourcin, Serenity Cellars Traminette and The Cottage Vineyard and Winery 2014 Vidal Blanc and Stonewall Creek 2015 Yukari.
Come visit the wineries on the Unicoi Wine Trail and tell them The Jelly People sent you
Jamming in Asheville
We love jamming in Asheville so when Ingles Markets invited us be part of their Taste of Local store event in Asheville, we immediately agreed.
The Universe, still smiling at us, put one of our favorite west coast bands, The Brothers Comatose at The Grey Eagle that night.
After a fun sampling event with other local vendors like Annie’s Bread and Roots Hummus in the Ingles deli, we checked into our hotel, and headed out for some more jamming. Clark and I love a walkable town, and were glad to park our car and enjoy some time exploring downtown.
Asheville is a big foodie town, with so many dinner choices! After checking Yelp reviews, we decided to eat at the venue, and the tacos did not disappoint.
The Grey Eagle has a great sound system and the band really brought a high energy crowd out. Good times indeed.
The band has been out on the road for a while now. In Asheville, they were 3000 miles away from home, so we spread some Unicoi Preserves to them after the show. We’re gone from home a lot and understand a little bit about life on the road
Cheese pairings with our locally sourced jams is something we love to share with friends, so when we were invited to be a part of the filming of Appetites and Anglers at Stonewall Creek Vineyards, we stopped by Ingles Markets on the way for supplies.
We started in the produce area and picked up some juicy grapes. Next up was our crunch element, so we got a scoop of almonds from the bulk section en route to bakery for a baked-in-store fresh, whole wheat baguette. Cheese, glorious cheese, was next.
Ingles has an extensive specialty cheese section and their buyers source cheese from all over the world, so we had a lot of choices.
Clark and I each picked three cheeses and this is how we paired them with our spreads
Chaumes with Salted Caramel Peach. Get this cheese, soft, smooth and nutty, you won’t regret this choice.
Satori Balsamic Bellavitano and Oscar Wilde Vintage Irish Cheddar with Strawberry Vanilla Spread. YUM. Strawberry Vanilla is fantastic and versatile.
BelGioioso Sharp Provolone with Apple Cider Pepper Spread. A crowd favorite!
Landana Milk Goat Cheese with Vineyard Fire. Mild goat cheese is a nice choice for a crowd
Supreme Creamy Soft Ripened Cheese with Vineyard Spread. Rich and satisifying
We also enjoyed Applegate Uncured Genoa Salami as part of our cheese plates.
I challenge you to try a new cheese, share it with friends and pair it with Unicoi Preserves. Let me know what pairing you create.
Introducing Strawberry Vanilla Spread
We are excited to present our newest flavor, Strawberry Vanilla Spread. Suzy & I have been working on getting the recipe dialed in, and trying to keep it under wraps. Fortunately, we have a great group of friends that we can bounce flavor ideas off of and trust them to keep whatever we share with them a secret until we are ready to reveal it.
I personally lobbied for this to be our next release because I have fond memories of Strawberry Preserves as a child. They were my condiment of choice growing up. My sister loved grape jelly, but I always reached for the jar of strawberry when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or looking for something to spread on my morning toast. My Dad owned a tire store and every year at Christmas, he would order gift boxes to give to his customers. Inside of each gift box were two stoneware crocks. One was filled with a cheddar cheese spread, the other with a delicious Strawberry Jam. I always secretly hoped he would have one or two left over that he would bring home for us to enjoy. My Mom was always conscious of what we ate, and most things with processed sugars were off limits. Cheerios were an approved cereal choice, but I knew better than to ask for Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs. Somehow, jelly and jam were not considered evil, so there was usually a jar in the fridge. Mom approved of this recipe on a recent visit, as a matter of fact. Like all of our products, it is naturally low in sugar, and like our Salted Caramel Peach recipe, fruit is the first ingredient.
I wanted to pay homage to these fond childhood memories, but with our own spin on it. So, the flavor is at once familiar, yet different. There are vibrant notes of strawberry right off the bat and then notes of rich vanilla finish on your palate. I’ve had a really hard time actually putting it on anything. I seem to just keep sticking my empty spoon back in the jar for another quick taste, but it pairs well with your morning toast, lunch time peanut butter and jelly sandwich and your evening appetizer board with a nice aged cheddar. We would love to hear your feedback on our newest addition to the family, so leave us a comment and help us spread the word!
10 ways jelly is like mountain biking
Sunday is our day of rest, at least from selling jelly. We’ve been taking more time to play outside lately and while we were riding at Jackrabbit yesterday, it occurred to me that riding mountain bikes is a lot like selling jelly.
- It doesn’t matter how slow you’re going, just keep pedaling/peddling
- Keep your head up and look past the obstacles
- Look where you want to go and stay focused on looking ahead
- Stay balanced, stay centered
- Don’t be afraid to put your foot down
- Relax your shoulders, smile and have fun
- Rest is as important as working
- Shifting gears is necessary
- Respect others on the trail and you’ll be respected as well.
- The best things in life aren’t easy
Yes, we Can!
Clark & I are often asked how we got into the jelly business.
Living in a rural mountain community, we’re surrounded by farms and joined a CSA pretty early on. Minimizing our carbon footprint and reducing food miles is important to us. We started freezer preserving tomatoes the first year. We roasted lots and lots of delicious, locally grown heirloom tomatoes, froze them, and enjoyed them through the winter months.
Reading nutrition labels on different jarred products we bought seemed more like lab experiments than food, full of ingredients that were hard to pronounce. At the encouragement of my sister, Betsy, a long time canner, artist and just genuine crafty person, we started putting food in jars.
We started out slow, using what we’d pick up at farmers markets, making jam and jelly, then pickling vegetables. Eventually, it was apparent we had a lot more food in jars then we could eat, so we started selling our canned goods at local farmers markets. We had a loyal following with our original home recipes and a business was born.
Cooking with what grows in our mountain region is important to us and we have cooked up a new recipe from local fruit that we’ll be revealing soon. I can’t wait for you to try it