Written By Michael Vyskocil
On a late September evening, you can begin to feel it. It is the cooler air that signals the end of a season; summer is really coming to a close. Although there is no way to slow the passage of time, many people like to preserve the season’s abundance through condiments, either homemade or commercially prepared.
The word “condiment” connotes those standard tabletop extras, such as ketchup, relish and mustard; but there are other members of this family, including such items as salsas, chutneys, and fruit butters that can sometimes be overlooked. These versatile condiments, which range in flavors from sweet to fire-hot, are made from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Their sweet or tart flavors can complement almost any dish.
If you are at all ambitious, you can try preparing a few homemade condiments (see recipes page 83), but Carroll residents and visitors to the county alike can take advantage of the many local sources for homemade condiments.
Buppert’s Doran’s Chance Farm
Carroll County has always had a proud heritage of family farms, and Buppert’s Doran’s Chance Farm, located in Eldersburg, is no exception. The family has been selling local produce at their farm and at farmers’ markets since 1951. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Buppert’s sells a variety of locally produced condiments.
“There’s a huge benefit to eating fresh and local,” said Debbie Buppert, co-owner of the farm’s market. “You’re not getting the preservatives and additives that you’ll find in commercial products.”
Although Buppert’s does not produce its own line of condiments, the farm sells many items made by McCutcheon Apple Products, Inc. in Frederick, and Grandma’s Jam House, located in Bittinger, Md.
Buppert’s customers can choose from a variety of jams and jellies, featuring fruits such as boysenberry, gooseberry, black raspberry and red raspberry (available with and without seeds).
“We try to find those special products, the ones you can’t get in the grocery stores,” Buppert said. For instance, the farm store sells a fruit medley available called “Southern Sunshine,” containing a mixture of oranges, pineapples, peaches and apricots.
Customers can also find a variety of fruit preserves (sweetened with white grape juice) and delicious fruit butters, available in flavors such as pumpkin, pear and apple.
If you are searching for local honey sources, Buppert’s also carries the sweet treat. One of its sources is Millville Farms in Marriottsville, which was awarded first prize for its honey at the Maryland State Fair in 1998 and 1999.
In addition to sweet condiments, Buppert’s also sells McCutcheon’s salad dressings, such as burgundy poppy-seed, and hot sauces, hot and sweet chow chows and relishes. One of the most unusual items you can find, is beet balls.
“They’re pickled baby beets,” Buppert said. “We got them by accident in an order we placed, but we put them out on the shelves. They sold like crazy.”
Buppert’s farm market is open until the end of October, which makes fall the perfect time to visit and shop the market. “Many customers come in to stock up on the jams, jellies and relishes before we close so that they have them to use over the winter or to give as Christmas gifts,” Buppert said.
Rare Opportunity Farm
Home canning is both a creative art and a science, said Ruth Thompson of Rare Opportunity Farm in Westminster (See background story, Page 81). Thompson has been canning “off and on” for the last 15 years. She began selling her homemade jams and jellies at the Carroll County Farmers’ Market at the Carroll County Agriculture Center last year.
Thompson prides herself in using fresh ingredients that are in season. “I make a variety of jams, jellies, and fruits salsas, such as mango and peach salsa,” she said.
Thompson said she learned to can by following basic recipes from canning books, but noted that she has gone on to develop original recipes by testing and experimenting in her kitchen. Her partner in the farm, Larry Terroy, has also contributed several recipes that add to the repertoire.
It is satisfying, Thompson said, to see the results of a canning session: colorful jars full of homegrown produce from the garden. She also likes talking to her customers at the market about her products.
“I like making customers see these products in a whole new light,” she said. For instance, she suggested pairing one of her jellies with a serving of Brie cheese; the flavor of the jelly can be used to complement or enhance the flavor of the cheese. Thompson’s passion is perhaps best summed up in the slogan used on her product labels: “Where flavor meets creativity.”
Baugher’s Orchard & Farm
For more than 100 years, Baugher’s Orchard & Farm has been providing Carroll County with some of the best locally grown produce. During the spring and summer growing season, you can visit the farm and pick your own crops. And although many people visit for the fresh produce, others are planning ahead for cooler weather to come. Jams, jellies, preserves and relishes can provide that summertime feel on the coldest of winter days.
The market at Baugher’s Orchard & Farm (located at Rt. 140 and Baugher Rd.) carries a variety of prepared condiments, including an extensive selection of products from McCutcheon Apple Products, Inc. and Jill’s Jams and Jellies, a Hampstead manufacturer of jams, jellies and mixes.
In addition to those items, Baugher’s also sells its own apple butter and applesauce. “The apples that come from our orchards go into these products,” said Cheryl Vural, director of retail operations at Baugher’s.
For those who are veteran canners (or who just want to learn), Baugher’s also carries the equipment needed to achieve expert results, including Ball canning jars, canning funnels and other supplies.
“I think people are taking an interest in canning again,” Vural said. “People remember their mothers or grandmothers canning, and they want to get back to their roots.”
Jill’s Jams, Mixes and More
Another local source for fresh jams and jellies is Jill’s Jams, Mixes and More, located in Hampstead. Owner Jill A. Gebhart stated that all of her products follow the three “H” guidelines “homemade, hand measured and hand stirred.”
“Most of our products,” she said, “are made and bottled the same day that the fruits and vegetables are picked.”
Jill’s relies on local orchards and farms for the ingredients that go into their jellies and jams. Some examples include apricot pineapple jam, tomato jam, hot pepper jelly, green pepper jelly, lemon curd and several gourmet jams, such as cranberry champagne jam.
Although Jill’s is a local business, the company also distributes its products nationwide, including the states of Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia. Locally, you can find Jill’s products at Baugher’s Orchard & Farm Market, the Carroll County Farm Museum, Hoffman’s Ice Cream, Miller’s Market in Manchester, The Smallwood Shoppe in Westminster and other locations (visit www.jillsbest.com for a complete list).
In addition to jams and jellies, Jill’s also produces a line of dip mixes, soups, baking and drink mixes.
McCutcheon’s: From Apples To Onions and Beyond
It all began with a used apple press purchased for $25. Today, what was once a retiree’s hobby has now blossomed into a major wholesaler. McCutcheon Apple Products, Inc., located in Frederick, remains one of the few apple-pressing mills still in operation in the state of Maryland.
The company was founded in 1938 by William O. McCutcheon, who used the apple press to make apple cider and juice for farmers. Today, the company is still owned by a fourth generation of McCutcheons.
Although the company still produces a variety of apple products, including juice, cider and butter, it also makes an extensive line of condiments. Some of the more than 250 items include oriental ginger salad dressing, peach hot sauce, hot pepper relish, elderberry jelly, baking mixes and a variety of onion products from Vidalia County, Ga. (just to name a few) that have become big sellers.
The company works with distributors to market its products, both nationally and locally, including right here in Carroll County. Baugher’s Orchard & Farm and Buppert’s Doran’s Chance Farm are two local sources that carry many McCutcheon products.
McCutcheon’s association with farmers’ markets is one of the keys to the company’s success. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers’ markets nationally has risen from 1,755 in 1994 to more than 3,700 in 2005. Another key to McCutcheon’s success is the quality of the ingredients used in making the products; you won’t find the artificial preservatives or sweeteners that are used in more widely marketed products.
In addition to the farmers’ markets, McCutcheon’s also has a mail-order operation and a factory store in Frederick. For more information about McCutcheon’s, or to place an order online, visit www.mccutcheons.com or call 301-662-3261 – M.V.
McCutcheon Apple Products, Inc.
P.O. Box 243, 13 South Wisner Street, Frederick, MD 21701
When home canning, use only standard canning jars. They have been tempered to withstand the heat needed to properly process the filled jars, and their mouths have special threads for sealing the lids. To sterilize canning jars, submerge them in a large stockpot full of boiling water for 10 minutes. Each time you use the jars, use new flat metal lids.
Makes 8 half-pints
4 cups peeled, pitted and 1/4 cup lemon juice, strained crushed ripe yellow peaches to remove seeds and pulp (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
Grated zest of 1 lemon 6 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter 1 (3-ounce) pouch liquid pectin
1. In an 8-quart saucepan, combine the peaches, lemon juice and zest. Stir in about 3 1/4 cups of the sugar. Cover the pan and let the peaches stand in the syrup mixture for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the cover from the saucepan and stir in the remaining sugar and butter. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface.
3. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam.
4. To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool for 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute to distribute the fruit.
5. Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on wire racks.
Source: Ruth Thompson, Westminster, MD
Makes 8 half-pints
6 pounds tart apples 6 cups apple cider
3 cups sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Core and quarter the unpeeled apples. In a large 4- to 6-quart kettle, combine the apples with the apple cider. Cook the apples until they begin to become soft, about 30 minutes. Add the sugar, ground cinnamon and ground cloves.
2. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil gently, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches the desired thickness.
3. Carefully ladle the hot apple butter into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving a 1/4-inch of head space. Wipe jar lids and rims with a clean, damp cloth; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on wire racks.
Source: Marjorie Baugher, Baugher’s Orchard & Farm