6 Reasons Why You Should Take a Preserves Class at Blake Hill

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

It's Hands-on

On Saturday I joined two other people in learning how to make preserves, syrups, and shrubs from co-owner of Blake Hill Preserves, Vicky Allard.  Making jam was a communal experience and lots of fun.  Each person in the commerical kitchen got to have multiple opportunities to be a part of the process if they chose to.  We cut and weighed the berries, added sugar, and stirred the goodness we were creating.  In the end we got to be the first to use the new labels and labeled our own jars.

You Learn a Lot

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Saying I learned a lot would be an understatment.  Vicky knows an impressive amount of information about the nuances of preserving.  One would expect a business owner in the field of preserves to know a lot, but I felt Vicky took it to a whole new level.  She really knew how to provide tips specific to each cook's situation.  How do I sterilize the jars without a dishwasher?  You can use the oven. I never knew that.  One person wanted to make jam with less sugar and use honey.  You can do that too. We learned the science and the math behind making the perfect jam and all those trouble shooting questions like how do you know when it's set and how do you get a good set.  Different berries change the recipe, consistency, and cook time so we got tips on how to adapt recipes to different fruits too.  Want to infuse more flavors and edible flowers?  We got to learn how to do that too. Whew. There's more, but suffice to say I am now educated!

You'll Get Ample Time to Ask Questions

Sometimes you go to a class and it feels uncomfortable to ask questions or it's never the right time.  Not at Blake Hill.  We all asked a lot of questions and any time in the process you could ask them.  Everything was relaxed and conversational.  We cut the berries and asked questions about sugar content.  We stirred the preserves and asked questions about the perfect set and recipe ideas. A few times I needed clarification to make sure I understood and Vicky was happy to oblige.  It was really a wonderful setting with personalized attention to your cooking needs. 

You'll Get a Lot of Recipe Ideas

Vicky provides recipes throughout the class and how you can modify them at home for your personal taste. As we were working she asked if there were any flavors we could think of that would go well with strawberry.  Some of the ideas we came up with were kiwi, mango, chipolte pepper, and banana.  Even a few minutes after our brainstorm, Vicky was still mulling over the strawberry banana idea.  It was trully an environment where everyone learned from each other and was inspired.  I wanted to go home and make more jam!  Even the shop itself is a flavor inspiration!

It's Affordable

The class costs only $40 for two and a half hours of hands on education from an expert in the field.  Well worth it!

It's Tasty and You Get to Take Some Goodies Home

In the end we made two types of jam: Strawberry Lilac and Strawberry Vanilla.  Both are amazing and we got to take one home with us.     

I also got to taste a strawberry lilac shrub and oh my!  I can see why it would be tasty as a summer drink - so flavorful and refreshing (it's non-alcoholic).  I even learned how to make one.  I'll have to try to this summer and serve to some loves ones at a get together.  More about this on my blog post in the future.

The tasting doesn't end there.  After the class Blake Hill has sweet treats you can enjoy using theirproducts made by a lady who works there.  They were the perfect texture and flavor.  I think she should sell her baked goods.  I wish I could've stayed longer and tried the blueberry and thyme Vicky said goes great on cheese. Sigh. Some other day. 

Sign Up for a Class this Summer

Want to join the fun?  There are three upcoming classes:

July 8 Local Gooseberries

Aug. 12 Local Blackcurrants

Sept. 9 Local Damson Plums

Classes are offered at two times on Saturday: 9:30 - 12 and 2 - 4:30.

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