When We Started:
We began our business in 1981 in an 1850s farmhouse in Columbia County in New York State. Our county is situated in the Hudson Valley and we are just a mile up the road from the river. We buy all of our fruit locally, or regionally, as we are part of the Greenmarket of New York City. The one exception is citrus fruits, which do not grow in our climate.
The greenmarket was founded 35 years ago by Barry Benepe and Bob Lewis—very forward-thinking men. They wanted to insure that small regional framers could stay in business and that city people would have fresh locally-grown food to buy. They must have met with resistance at the time since there weren’t many “foodies” around then. My, but times have changed.!
Beth Farm Kitchen’s first product was Strawberry Jam. Since then we’ve developed over 90 jam varieties. Why stick with a single product, especially since so many fruits are grown in this region? We could not overlook even the tiny elderberry. We’ve tried many combinations too, including Cherrycot and Raspyboyberry. But the bestselling, and most popular, is Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. Finally, we expanded into the marmalades to complete our product line. YUM!
In her research on jams, Beth Linskey, our founder, says she kept running into discussions, or notes, about chutneys. As she says, “Being from the Midwest originally, tartar sauce was exotic to me. Chutneys seemed extraordinarily different—and what a great use for fruits and spices. In the 1980s, my husband Charlie and I, with our nonflammable palates, developed the Blazing Tomato Chutney. We began with “ketsup,” just as the early American settlers did, and added some heat. At the end of the growing season, these pioneers made ketsup from tomatoes and apples, just as chowchow was made from vegetables. Ketsup, in fact, goes back further—to India and China. We were so enamored of this chutney that we began experimenting, and tweaking other recipes. We went through many trials—and many many errors—but we now have a fine collection of subtle, and sometimes spicy, chutneys.”
Beth continues … “In 1983 Pepper Jelly with cream cheese was a trendy treat, but it has now become Habanero Jelly served with goat cheese. And we got even more daring and began our foray into hot sauces. Sampling these products is not for the faint-hearted. We are not inherently mean spirited. We do warn people.”
As for mustards (some are also hot) we are working with Cayuga Pure Organics. Cayuga sells us the seeds and we make local mustard. We’ve been told local seeds have not been used in New York State for well over 50 years. We welcome their return.
Enough about our history. Let’s get down to eating!