New Year and New Opportunities

by Carol on January 3, 2015

We had an incredible summer where we gathered fruit of all types and built new partnerships.  I am giving you a summary of what has happened and a preview of what might be happening in this new year.

What we gathered this year:  It was a really busy summer collecting fruit and although we have kept some figures, we have not totalled other items.  This is a resolution for the new year – weigh all the fruit that comes in!!
Rhubarb – We collected over 1,300 Kilos of rhubarb this summer and our cooks are worried we might not have put enough away.   We save it by chopping and freezing it to use in the winter and we also juice it and save it in 1 L jars for making products such as Lemon Pepper Gin, Sweet Chili Tri Sauce, and using as the liquid needed in all rhubarb jams.  We really try to never add water, but only juice made from the actual fruit.  With the chopped fruit we make Blueberry Rhubarb, Mango Orange Rhubarb, Hot Pepper Rhubarb Spread, Raspberry Pear Rhubarb Jam, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, our famous Chipotle Rhubarb Ketchup, Citrus Ginger Sauce and our Rich Rhubarb Chutney.  In the fall we created a new condiment called BrewBarb which is made with rhubarb and HopsSlayer beer from Hogs Head Brewery topped up with tons of hot spices.  It is great with meats, as a glaze for the BBQ or a dip for pretzels.
Raspberries.  As usual it was prickly picking and some patches did well and others were taking a break this summer.
Local sour cherries – This was a great year for sour cherries and we juiced all of them to use for Chocolate Cherry Jelly, Cherry Apple Jam, Cherry Heaven Jam, and Black Forest Sauce.   We also use it to make Chocolate Cherry Chili Condiment and 3 C’s Condiment.
Pears were not as abundant this year but we have still made a lot of Almond Pear and Ginger Pear Jelly.  We have also found that our Peppered Pear Condiment has been really popular as well.
Saskatoons.  We spent a number of days picking saskatoons in the country and our volunteers are already planning how to be more productive next year.  These are used in Saskatoons in Summer Fruits Jam, Gingered Saskatoon and Apple Jam, and Balsamic Saskatoon and Strawberry Condiment.
Currants:  Red and black currants were a new fruit gathered this year and we have juiced them for jelly.  The pickers came home hot and tired after those days in the sun and had stained fingers for days.
Apples and Crab Apples:  We received our annual bounty and chopped, cooked and juiced apples and crab apples until we thought there would be no end.  Apple season is truly the time of hardest work in our kitchen.   We made Cherry Apple Jam, Gingered Saskatoon and Apple Jam, Mango Apple Jam, Raspberry Apple Jam, Strawberry Apple Jam and our GO BBQ Sauce.   With the juice we made wonderful jellies such as Cinnamon Apple, Apple Lime & Cardamom, Mint Apple, and Rosemary Apple.  Crab apples are juiced so we can make Crimson Marmalade, 4 Peppers Jelly, Cinnamon Apple Jelly, Taffy Apple Jelly and Tarragon Crab Apple Jelly.

Then came the surprises.  Black BC cherries came from the Organic Food Box as well as other fruits over the summer.  The black cherries are the base of the Black Forest Sauce and Cherry Heaven and we juiced some to make Cherry Chili Condiment.  The blush Rainier cherries are used in Cherry Apple Jam. From our local gardens came plums, apricots, grapes, herbs, Hascaps and even local Kiwis.  From the local BC fruit vendors in town we collected apricots, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and other small fruits that go into Apricot Amber Condiment, Peach Pepper and Port Condiment and form the base for the Summer Fruits juice for Saskatoons in Summer Fruits.

Thank you to all who donated, shared  and picked.

Where to find us.     If you haven’t already looked, we have a list of retail locations under the tab Find Us.   Over this year our product has been added to the shelves in the following locations:

EVOOLUTION in their 3 locations  - 104 Street downtown Edmonton, Southgate Mall and the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert.

The Grapevine Deli in St. Albert carries a wide variety of items from around the world and we are delighted to be one of their local products.

Studio Bloom is just around the corner from our kitchen and Rosella has agreed to be our storefront and together we try to have nearly all of our products in her store.

Cafe Leva - at 11053 – 86 Avenue in the university area uses 2 of our jams for their breakfast offerings.

YUBA is a delivery service in Calgary and they have 10 of our popular products in their on-line catalogue.

Classes:  We taught about 3 classes a month over the summer and fall – both in our kitchen and we also packed things up and went out to other’s spaces.  We plan to have classes for Jam and Jelly making again this summer.  Watch for dates or phone us at 780-244-0129 or send an e-mail to fruitsofsherbrooke@gmail.com.

Team Building:  Wow!  this is a really fun day and we had 3 groups this past summer.  The plan is to have a work group spend a full day with us.  They start by picking forgotten fruit, help process it or deliver it to one of our community partners and then spend the last half of the day making their own jams.  Carol as the cook anticipated that the most fun would be making the jams.  Christina as the head picker and harvester, would select yards that would give the volunteers a fun picking experience.  BUT we did not anticipate the productivity of having 6 – 8 dedicated people working all at the same time!  They sure pick a lot of fruit.  We had to make different plans so we didn’t overwhelm our own kitchen workers.  Christina found a number of our community recipients and they were prepared when a large amount of apples was delivered directly to them.  This is all part of our mission – to have the abundance used by those who want it and it was exciting to have teams see that the food goes to those in need.   There will be more Team Building days this summer and we will continue to figure out how to make this happen.

Wedding Favours:  We have occasionally been asked to create jams as wedding favours and have had fun doing this.  So we are offering it on a more formal basis.  Take a look here  for our options.  We will consult and then make them for you according to your colour scheme or other criteria.  Or a group could come and use our kitchen and tools and have some of our staff to shepherd you through the creation.

Limited Edition Jams.  We often get small batches of unique fruits that will not create enough jam to list it as a regular offering.  So we tried to create a Jam Club but with the input from Alan who is in charge of the markets, found that it is easier to just mark the jars differently and sell them at the Farmer’s Market tables.   We created jams with Quince, local hascaps (also called honeyberries), grapes, red and black currants, local plums, local kiwi and donated items like local honey and lavender.  These are fun to create in the kitchen and we hope they are fun to find in the jars.

Organic Food Box:  This summer we received fruit from the Organic Food Box.  These are the fruits that are no longer good enough to send out to customers due to wilting or bruising but with careful culling and sorting at our end, we can ‘rescue’ good fruit.  We have learned that it can all come at once and although thankful, we have been up to our elbows in salvaged fruit and lots of debris ready for the composter.  We thank the Organic Food Box for their partnership and we do forward excess to some of our community partners as well over the year.

Community Partnerships.  Christina has created a wide network of small community food banks, charities, community kitchens, not-for-profit groups and group homes, who will take excess fruit for their members.  If our kitchen is full, we will often ask homeowners to deliver their fruit directly to these community resources, so they have the pleasure of knowing who will be using it.   Sometimes in the height of apple season all of these recipients are overloaded so the back up is a list of people who make wine and cider.  We try very hard to make sure it is all used and are proud that the only fruit that goes to the garbage are apples infested with apple maggot.  The city composts all these items at high temperature which will kill off the insects so it is a good plan.
*  School Snack Program:   We plan to partner with E4C in the inner city to get apples to them for their snack programs.  We have tried to give them apples on short notice but they need to plan further ahead.  So we hope to set things up differently.  They will give us the number of students who need a fruit snack on certain days in the fall and we will put it out to the homeowners and volunteers and see if they can fill the demand for that day.  It is quite a different way to do things for us – to try to fill orders – but maybe this will be the way to have local kids eat local apples.  We will know by the end of September 2015.
If anyone has an approved location to make apple sauce or dried apple chips for the snack program, let us know.   We have the apples and the student snack program will use them.  We just need to find a way to make it happen.
*  Multi-Cultural Groups:  We started this fall to teach local food animators within the multi-cultural communities different ways of preserving apples – such as making apple sauce and jams and dehydrating.  The goal is to work with people who want to pick apples in the community and connect them with homeowners who would welcome them into their yards.  We will offer classes on preserving and we will set up some groups with the needed tools for their communal kitchen or for a lending situation.  This is how we see the Cherry Stone Soup program finally coming into fruition.  Anyone interested in helping to make this work?


Membership
:  Well we have started a formal application for membership that runs for a calendar year.  If you are interested in joining us, please fill out the application and send it to us at fruitsofsherbrooke@gmail.com

Strategic Planning:  We have a small committee that is looking into getting us more formally organized and as this process has just started we are still looking for members who might be interested in helping with this structure.  Call our line at 780-244-0129 or send an e-mail to fruitsofsherbrooke@gmail.com with attention to Alan Cosh.

Volunteers:  Yes, as we are growing, we need more volunteers to assist with cooking, picking fruit, running programs, teaching classes, shopping, being a vendor at markets,  taking on programs such as the snacks for E4C or the partnering of pickers and homeowners, computer work, administration, accounting and all other sundry occupations.  It is rewarding work and you get to take home lots of fruit in the summer.

Thanks for reading through all this.  We are now moving into our 5th year and having heard that this is the proverbial “make it or break it” year, we are feeling pretty confident that we are finally going to “make it” as an organization.  So it is with a smile on our faces and a wish for fields of rhubarb, that we launch into 2015.   Cheers.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

The Apples Are Coming.

by Carol on July 26, 2014

The Apples are Coming! 

Does this sound like a grade B movie?  With the abundance of apples in the city and the struggle of know what to do with them all, it feels like a pretty scary event to all of us at Fruits of Sherbrooke.  We have been making jams and jellies and even some popular sauces with local apples, but we are always overwhelmed with the bounty that is available.

In 2013 we diverted over 8,000 kg of apples to charities, food banks and community kitchens and resources in the month of September and then we just lost count!!   This year we have increased our list of charities, not for profit groups, community projects and even some small businesses that will take all the apples we can direct to them.  We know this will only address a portion of the apples but it is a definite improvement over the past when they ended up in the garbage.

A loaded Apple Tree

If you can pick them, give us a call and we will direct you where they can go.  Some operations will come and pick them up, while some of the charities and food banks ask that you deliver them directly to them.  This works as you will see who will be using them and have the satisfaction of knowing they will be used for food.  We do ask that you call us first as we operate a clearing house operation to make sure that none of the recipients become overwhelmed and that others do not get forgotten.  We appreciate your efforts in helping us in this initiative.

If you are unable to pick the apples, contact Operation Fruit Rescue and register your tree.  If they have enough volunteers they will come and pick it for you.  If this does not work and you are willing to let others in your yard, we might be able to connect with new Canadians who are willing to pick for themselves.

To assist individuals in knowing what to do with them, we are offering a series of classes on Apples and ideas of how to preserve them for winter use.   In addition, OFRE (Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton) will also have a series of events where they will bring their apple press and demonstrate the making of apple cider.  Watch their website for details.

For information on our Apples!  Apples!  Apples! Classes click here for details.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

CTV coverage

July 22, 2014

Des Melanka and her cameraman spent a day picking rhubarb, watching us make ketchup and finally put our story together for a spot on the news.  Thanks for the spot! Here is the link to the video.

Read the full article →

Rhubarb has arrived

June 21, 2014

After waiting so long for spring and watching the rhubarb coming up so slowly, they are ready!  Summer is here and we are up to our elbows in Rhubarb.  This past week we received about 150 kg – we picked some and some were dropped off by homeowners.  Wow!!!  It has taken most of 2 days just to wash it, [...]

Read the full article →

Workshop with Uncles and Aunts at Large

June 9, 2014

May 2014 we had a gathering from Uncles and Aunts at Large for a workshop on making jam – regular cooked jam and freezer jams.  It was wonderful to have some young men cooking with the group.  I think we have at least one budding chef in the group as I watched him taste different [...]

Read the full article →

Our Step into the Entertainment World

May 15, 2014

On Friday May 23rd we have been invited to be the “info” part of the Hey Ladies entertainment night.  Carol has been a Die Nasty fan for over 3 years now.  It is an improv soap opera here in Edmonton and 3 of the actors run the Hey Ladies event 3 – 4 times a [...]

Read the full article →

Classes Now Available

May 11, 2014

We are now ready to offer classes on the following schedule or can set up a class at a time and place that works for you. What will I learn?  We will teach 2 jam making processes – the traditional method as well as freezer jam.  The traditional jam and jelly process is a cooked [...]

Read the full article →

Cancelled – 2nd Annual Cheese and Wine Fund-raising event – May 3, 2014

March 27, 2014

Note – Due to low ticket sales, this event has been cancelled.  If you purchased tickets, please call and we will arrange to give you a full refund. We will now focus on funding ourselves through other initiatives such as the Corporate Volunteer workshops, and through the sale of our jams and condiments. *************************************************************************************** We [...]

Read the full article →

LIMITED EDITION JAM CLUB

March 10, 2014

I love the bounty of fruit and herbs we are given each year.  If you follow us and our products you will know that we make a wide variety of products with our main local fruits such as rhubarb, raspberries, sour cherries, pears, apples and crab apples.  Then little gems appear like Honeyberries, local plums, [...]

Read the full article →

Cost of “Free Fruit”

February 21, 2014

As we are starting into our 4th year , we would like thank everyone who has supported Fruits of Sherbrooke over the past and welcome you as we continue to grow. We started in our neighbourhood of Sherbrooke with the mission of using fruit that was falling to the ground as we believed it was [...]

Read the full article →