Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Champagne and Rose Marmalade Masterclass at Blake Hill Preserves in Windsor, Vt.

April 8, 2017
Artisans Way, Windsor Vt.

It's not often that you run into someone who is passionate about marmalade, let alone run into a group of marmalade fans but they came together at Blake Hill Preserves located at Artisans Park in Windsor, Vermont on Saturday, April 8.

Vicky Allard, co-owner and executive chef at Blake Hill, shared her marmalade passion with fourteen people from Vermont and as far away as Long Island, NY, in her master class "Pink Champagne and Rose Marmalade" (the supply store was out of pink champagne so Moet Brut was substituted.) "Marmalade can be addictive...we're enablers" Allard told the group, in her crisp British accent, as they were trading their coats for kitchen jackets.

In a little over two hours, Allard took the group through the four step process of making marmalade. Allard was assisted by kitchen manager, Noralee Hall and "company forager" Elise Lisle (both from Grafton, Vt.) Hall and Lisle were constantly in motion prepping cooking utensils, stirring pots, sterilizing jars and basically keeping the students and Allard on track.


So why the name Blake Hill asked one of her students. "It's named after Blake Hill Farm in Grafton", where the artisan preserves enterprise started only eight years ago. "The farm is outside of Grafton (Vermont) on a three mile long dirt road, you can imagine trying to get a delivery truck to pick up our preserves. (Mostly) we drove our Jam Van around."

The "we" is Allard and her partner Joe Hanglin, together they formed Blake Hill Preserves in 2009, "quite by accident" she said stirring the marmalade batch in a copper preserve pan. "A friend who was visiting snuck a jar of jam to the local grocery store and returned an hour later with the newspaper and our first jam order."

In 2012 Allard and Hanglin opened a production kitchen on the Grafton farm they fell in love with, bought and began restoring. During this restoration process, they discovered lots of wild blackberry and raspberry bushes. They planted blueberries, gooseberries and rhubarb which became staples in their artisanal jams, chutneys and marmalades.

Facing growing pains at the facility in Grafton, a 6,000 square-foot production facility and retail store was built by Springfield Regional Development Corporation with financing provided by the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) and located in Artisans Park in Windsor. All of their products are now produced in this new facility and the retail space allows for direct purchase and daily tastings for their customers. The grand opening of this space was Oct. 6, 2016.
Blake Hill is now one of the country's leading artisan preserve and marmalade makers. Allard was inspired by her childhood where she would forage for berries with her father and make preserves with her mother.

A little background on their website explains that Allard, a third-generation preserve maker from Hampshire, England learned the craft of jam making from her mother. Her grandmother was the chutney expert in the family. Hanglin grew up in Gibraltar and has British, Spanish and Italian ancestry. With this Mediterranean heritage he adds the spice to may of the chutneys.

Blake Hill was the first U.S. producer to win gold at the World Marmalade Awards, where over 3000 marmalades are tasted and scored by experts each year. In the last five years, Blake Hill has taken home five World Marmalade Awards gold medals, six U.S. Good Food Awards and a SOFI-awards given out by the Specialty Foods Association.

Five more master classes are being offered this year: May 13-Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney; June 3-Strawberry Preserve; July 8-Savory Gooseberry Jam; Aug. 12-English-style Black Currant Jam and Sept. 9-Spiced Plum Preserve. Registration is required. For more information about these classes or Blake Hill Preserves call 802-674-4529 or email info@blakehillpreserves.com.

Allard, Hanglin and the employees at Blake Hill are always experimenting with new recipes and combinations. The result is an ever-expanding collection of artisanal chutneys, conserves, preserves and marmalades. They use fresh local, non-GMO or organic ingredients, fruits, and berries whenever possible. One "experiment" to watch for is "Persian Lime with Coconut", it was out-of-this-world delicious.



More photos from the class click HERE

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