We’ve just released our first seasonal flavor this last week, Apricot Almond. It has been an adventure! Every time we create a new preserve, there’s so much that goes into it. We’ve got to get a photo, description, pairings, recipes, label…and that’s just the marketing side. What really takes a lot of time is getting the recipe exactly right.
We did ten or so test batches of this one before hitting on exactly the right flavor. It had to be exactly in the middle between tart and sweet, with a hint of dried apricot flavor but mostly fresh, and with a nuttiness from the almonds that grounded the preserve but didn’t dominate.
We felt confident we’d figured it out and so, over two nights, we made what were (at the time) our largest batches ever, totaling almost three hundred jars worth of preserves. The next day, we noticed that the preserves looked a little…liquid, but Matt was confident it would set up. For the next two weeks, I kept picking up the jars and turning them upside down. Each time I’d be like, “That’s a little thicker, right, Matt? Right?” Well, those preserves weren’t planning on making any further changes, and it was a sad day when we figured that out. What were we going to do with all these jars? We also couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. The test batches had worked so perfectly! After an hour or so of being like, “We don’t know how to make preserves, let’s just give up and get real jobs,” Matt deduced that the kitchen scale we use for test batches couldn’t measure in small enough quantities, and he was just getting lucky with the pectin. Scale up that kind of guesstimation by 100 and you got yourselves some apricot syrup.
At the same time, it turned out the other crisis of the week was that we ran out of jars…completely. We ordered 2000 when we started our business and that to us seemed like a fairly infinite amount, so we never gave it a second thought. Two-thirds of the way through jarring the second batch of Apricot, they were gone. So we also had a pot of preserves in the fridge, awaiting jars en route from the west coast.
Being the kind of people you know us to be, we were determined to sell these guys, and soon! Did I mention apricot season ended the week we made them? So we didn’t have any second chances. The calculations involved in fixing the problem make my brain hurt, but the essence is that we had to turn the two batches in jars plus the one in the fridge into four separate pots worth of preserves that all tasted the same. Plus adjust pectin. That’s the kind of sentence I usually skim, so I’ll summarize here: haaard.
And we succeeded! So I don’t know if that means we know what we’re doing or not, but we got them jarred up again, labeled and out the door, and you can now find them in most of our stores in Madison and Milwaukee and on the website. And we think they are dee-lish. Especially stirred into plain yogurt, that’s my favorite combo so far!
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