One option for consumers looking to buy fruit preserves is artisan preserves. But what is artisan preserves? These are fruit preserves, but not made by companies involved in large-scale production with nationwide (even international) distribution networks, using a process opposite of mass-production methods.
School of Arts and Food defines artisan as it refers to food as “a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialized methods”.
In Texas, the production of artisan preserve may fall under the category of cottage food production. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), “a cottage food production operation is defined as an individual, operating out of the individual’s home”. Some of the bullet points following this description imply that making artisan preserves could be considered as a cottage food production, such as:
- Produces at the individual’s home…canned jam or jelly…including products that are refrigerated to preserve quality
- Has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the described foods;
- Sells the foods produced directly to consumers; and
- Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.
Artisan Preserves Trivia
- Before learning how to preserve fruits, the Greeks during the ancient times put quince and honey in a jar. This is one of the early forms of fruit preserving.
- Food historians believe that the practice of preserving fruits began in the Middle East.
- De Re Coquinaria (“The Art of Cooking”), the oldest cookbook to survive from antiquity, has recipes for fruit preserves using honey).
- In earlier times, fruit preserves are for royalty and wealthy people only. Perhaps this is because sugar then was a valuable commodity.
- The colonists brought fruit preserves in the US.
Artisan Preserves Buying Guide
You can buy artisan preserves in farmers markets where small, local businesses set up shop to sell and promote their products. Because of the growing acceptance of artisanal items for sale, many stores are actually giving artisanal products space in places that traditionally cater to commercial brands.
Artisan Preserves Production & Farming in Texas
One of the production qualities of artisan preserves is that it is made in small batches. A lot of factors influence this. First, artisan food is not mass-produced. Secondly, the method of making artisan food makes it impossible to produce large quantities. Third, making artisan food usually means sourcing locally, so the availability of certain products depends on whether the ingredients are in season or not.
Another production quality of artisan preserves is that it is seasonal. Artisan preserves in Texas are usually made using fruits common and abundant in the state. To anticipate when artisan preserves for a specific fruit would be available, it helps to know the harvest season for fruits commonly grown in Texas. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other berries are harvested from May to July. Apples are harvested from July to November. Grapes are harvested from August to October. Peaches are harvested from June to September. Pears are harvested from August to November. Cherries and figs are harvested from June to July. Citrus fruits are harvested from October to April. Melons are harvested from May till winter. Pomegranates are harvested from October to December. Expect artisan preserves to be available when it is harvest season for certain fruits.
Texas has a growing community of artisans making homemade preserves, like Kendra’s Kreations, a vegan company in Fort Worth, Texas, and Confituras in Austin. Vela Farms’ Texas Fig Preserves is an example of a small-batch, seasonal preserve. Vela Farms is located in Victoria, Texas.
The steady supply of artisan preserves in the community is the work of what we call canners like Dianne Ragain from Dallas whose artisan preserves have won numerous awards in the 2019 Texas State Fair, including 1st place awards in the Fruit and Berry Preserves, Peach Preserves, Pear Preserves, and Grape Jam categories. Her preserves also finished second in the Apple Preserves and Plum Preserves category.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
An important selling point for artisan preserves is that it is healthy, organic, and made without additives, artificial preservatives, or other chemicals. Nonetheless, below are the list of potential additives you may find in an artisan preserve.
- Sodium benzoate (E211)
- Potassium Benzoate (E212), also known as Benzoic acid
- Citric Acid (E330)
Artisan preserves are usually sold in mason jars and glass bottles.
Enjoying Artisan Preserves
Eating artisan preserves is the same as eating commercial fruit preserves. Add it to your oatmeal or granola or use it as a sandwich spread. Use it as toppings for crackers, pancakes, or waffles, or use it as filling for your baked goods. You can add it to ice cream or yogurt. Just make sure that when eating artisan preserves, you do not overindulge and eat just enough to satisfy your sweet cravings, otherwise, this may result in health problems including tooth decay and diabetes because artisan preserves contain sugar.
Artisan preserves need to be refrigerated especially after opening. This will help extend the shelf life of the preserve. Always make sure to close the lid of the jar after scooping out strawberry preserve and before returning it to the fridge.
Make your own homemade strawberry preserve
Strawberry preserve is one of the popular types of fruit preserves. Many Texas-based small, local businesses making artisan preserves have a strawberry preserve for sale, especially since Texas harvests its own strawberries. Marble Falls, Poteet, Greenville, and Alvin are some of the places in Texas where you can find strawberries. Texas Best Smokehouse and Fredericksburg Farms are some of the small, local businesses selling home-made artisanal strawberry preserves. If, for some reason, there is no strawberry preserve on the grocery shelf when you need one, having your own homemade strawberry preserve guarantees that you have your Plan B if ever you have the hankering.
This recipe will yield four half-pint glass jars.
- Fresh strawberries, 3 pints
- Granulated sugar, 5 cups
- Fresh lemon juice, 1/3 cup
Step 1. Wash the strawberries in cold water, and then hull the strawberries and discard the caps.
Step 2. In a large stainless steel or enamel-lined pan, combine the strawberries and granulated sugar. Let sit for 3 to 4 hours.
Step 3. Transfer it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil slowly. Stir occasionally.
Step 4. Add the lemon juice.
Step 5. Cook over medium heat until syrup is thick. This will normally take around 15 minutes.
Step 6. Transfer the strawberry preserves into hot, sterilized jars. Do not fill to the brim and make sure to leave 1/4-inch headspace.
Step 7. Close the lid of the glass jar, followed by a 1o-minute boiling water bath.
Step 8. Let it cool.
Step 9. Store in the refrigerator.