2014 Classes now available! 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.Read More
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 the right thing to do, it was free and we wanted to show that good things could be made with this abandoned fruit. We walked from yard to yard and as you can see from this photo, Christina brought her grandchildren to help and the bounty was hauled home in the wagon. We proudly had a little footprint on our labels at that time as we claimed to pick within walking distance of our community league. It was an environmental effort and we made jams and applesauce as a way to use the fruit. Over the second year, we received calls from farther afield to come and pick their fruit. We were appreciative of the offering, so we went, picked and tried to leave homeowners a jar of jam in thanks. It was manageable and we were having fun. We were not making money yet but assumed it was the cost of starting up. Year three was 2013 and it all expanded. We were making lots more product, selling in more markets and thus had to gather more of this "free" fruit.
At the same time we were busy making sure that fruit, excess to our needs, was given to other small charities, non-profits, community kitchens, group homes, university food banks, schools and individuals that would use it. In the fall of 2013 we diverted over 8,000 kg apples to these places plus other produce that came our way. We partner with Winnifred Stewart Association and Chrysallis to offer job experience opportunities, we offer entry level work experience to people who volunteer in the kitchen or help with labeling. As a caring, grass-roots organization, we offer a flexible work setting that allows people with children or health issues to volunteer with us. We do offer reimbursement for travel and expenses, so it is a good starting place for many. In addition we have been planning the launch of our Cherry Stone Soup program in 2014, and this will offer preserving courses to low income participants in the city. Christina has also been busy creating networks with local animal farms asking them to pick up apples that are not suitable for human consumption and bring them to their farm animals. These are a lot of initiatives that meet our mission of having all the local abundance of fruit used for food.
In the winter of 2013 - 2014 we have been meeting with consultants from Alberta Agriculture and one of our challenges was to actually look at the cost of our 'free' fruit. As mentioned above, we figured it was free and happily drove around picking, picking up and bringing it back to our kitchen. But as we worked it out, we found that it costs more than buying it from the store. WOW! what a surprise that was! We have no economy of scale. Take rhubarb for example. We have patches of rhubarb all around the city and we try to pick every 4 weeks. It is a lot of driving throughout the summer gathering a few bags here and there. The fantasy of having a field of rhubarb is often in our minds. Then we have to clean it up, chop it finely (nobody likes to find long fibres in their jam) and compost the leaves and trimmings. This work is all done by hand. As we gather more than we can process during the summer we have a number of freezers spread around this part of the city in people's basements, garages and a church basement. So we have to ferry the bounty into storage for winter's use. At the same time, we make lots and lots of rhubarb juice and store it in jars. This juice is added when we need liquid in our rhubarb jams and is also the base for a lot of condiments - Lemon Pepper Gin Jelly and Sweet Chili Tri Sauce for example.
You can only begin to guess how much time is spent picking local raspberries and saskatoons, climbing up ladders into cherry, pear, and apple trees, reaching around pokey branches, moving the ladders time and again and then driving back to sort, wash, chop and juice each of these fruits for use. All of this work is done before we even start to make products. We have learned that using locally rescued fruit is a good environmental choice but not a cheap choice. Then after doing all this work, we have been leaving a jar of jam in thanks. The accountants in our world, shake their heads, not only does it cost a lot of time and energy to 'rescue', then we have been adding more to the cost of the fruit collected by giving away jam! It just goes to show that we are kind-hearted environmentalists and not money smart - so far.
Has this deterred us? No.
- We know we are right in using good local fruit that would otherwise be abandoned.
- We know we make good product with a green footprint.
- We use our own fruit juice whenever liquid is required.
- Every product is 60% - 100% rescued fruit.
- The mission is correct.
- AND ....we have fun.
We have a partnership with the University of Alberta and their CSL - Community Service Learning Program. One of the students this fall, Nicole Martin, took the challenge of creating a video to explain our story. In addition, we had 4 other students who have helped us with our social media limitations (we are all sooo over 40 and need help in this area) and also with our marketing plans. It has been a very productive session and hopefully you will see the benefits of their input. So here is the link to this great video and 3 minutes will tell it all! Fruits of Sherbrooke Video Enjoy and feel free to share.
As I posted in early July, we received a wonderful gift of a lot of strawberries. I chose to juice most of them and they have been sitting awaiting a good inspiration. There is lots of strawberry jam around so I wanted to make something different while still retaining the wonderful strawberry flavour. Would this product be a jam or a condiment? Well - we decided to make a crossover - something that would be tasty for those who like a jam with interest ... But ... also could be used as a condiment for those who like a sweet compliment to meats. I think we succeeded. I took it to one of the markets the last 2 weeks and the tasters were pretty equally divided about whether it was a jam or a savoury. It will be going out to the all the Edmonton markets this week and here are some ideas about how to use this unique taste treat.
Flavour Profile: it starts with the full taste of sweet summer strawberries filling your mouth and just at the end - as you swallow - a light lift of chipotle chilis becomes present. This finish cuts the sweetness and brightens the mouth with a little surprise. As the cooks at Fruits of Sherbrooke, we think it is pretty brilliant!!
Uses: * Some people have used it to spark up a PBJ sandwich or just plain on toast. * Others have used it on cream cheese and a bagel or with cheese and crackers. * Use it as a glaze when cooking chicken, fish or tofu. As it is a jelly, I would suggest putting the meat or fish on a large piece of parchment or foil , topping it with a couple of spoonfuls of Sweet Summer Heat and then closing the package and baking in the oven or on the BBQ. * What about a salad with a protein of your choice, lots of greens, perhaps feta cheese, some pecans or pumpkin seeds and a dressing with Sweet Summer Heat in it. Make an oil and vinegar dressing or use a mayo dressing and add 2 or more Tablespoons Sweet Summer Heat to the dressing. This will make it a wonderful fruity dressing with a touch of heat. You can always add extra heat by adding chopped hot peppers or a touch of hot chili sauce. * Make a unique topping for a grilled steak. Have a few fresh strawberries chopped and if grilling meat on BBQ, put the strawberries in a small pan on the grill and when just heated add a couple of Tablespoons of Sweet Summer Heat to the berries just until heated. Taste and add extra chili if desired. Remove steak from the grill and top with the Strawberry Sauce. If steaks are cooked in a pan, add the berries and Sweet Summer Heat to the grilling pan as soon as steaks are removed then pour over meat to serve. * What about desserts? In a microwave glass bowl, heat a few spoonfuls of Sweet Summer Heat for about 10 seconds to just soften it, then toss with prepared fresh strawberries and pour over a cheesecake, ice cream or mix with an alcohol of choice for a summer drink.
Availability: This is a Seasonal Specialty. This means that we have a limited amount because it is not a regular fruit we rescue. It will be available at local Farmer's Markets and can be ordered by phone for delivery at markets until it runs out and that will be the end. During its availability we will accept request for delivery but these will be filled only if available.
Comments: This product has been fun to create and we hope it will be fun to use. We thank Walker's Own BC fruits for their generosity in gifting us with the strawberries. To be clear, they were past their prime for the markets but with diligent efforts by our fruit rescue team, we were able to sort through and find berries that were still full of summery goodness. We then had the joy of creating what we think is a unique gem!
Your comments are always welcome.
I just noticed that rhubarb seems to have pushed its way into the photo but it is NOT in the jar!!!
We have been curious to see how our condiments match up to some of the local cheeses that are made in Alberta and with the help of some wonderful friends this is finally going to happen. Here is your invitation. Date: Saturday April 20th, 2013 from 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Location: Giovanni Music at 10528 Mayfield Road, Edmontonis one of our sponsors. We will be holding the event on the second floor in the midst of a large gallery of original pieces of art of all genres. It couldn't be a more beautiful location! To add to the feast for the eyes, there will be a pianist and a classical guitarist performing during the event.
Artisan Cheese Producers: There will be product from 3 local Alberta cheese producers. Leslie and Alex from Smoky Valley Goat Cheese make a wide variety of goat cheeses; Rhonda from The Cheesiry makes sheep cheese from the sheep she tends and milks, and finally Sylvan Star who makes award winning cow cheeses.
Wines and an expert to help with pairings is coming from our local Sherbrooke Liquor Store and they promise a good selection to challenge our taste buds.
Condiments to pair with cheeses and wines offered by Fruits of Sherbrooke - of course.
Fruit and Chocolate What goes better with cheese and wine? Jana from Tasteful Art will be showcasing her artistic talents as she creates beautiful fruit displays that are almost too nice to eat! Edna of Oodles of Chocolates makes her sweet treats just too easy to pop into your mouth!
Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling 780-244-0129. We accept Visa and Mastercard (with a small surcharge) and delivery or pick up can be arranged. Giovanni's Music will also have tickets for sale. You can also purchase tickets by linking here to Event Brite.