Terroir

Literally translated, terroir means terrain. In Europe, where the phrase first came into common use,terroir referred specifically to grapes and their wines. It is now defined as the growing conditions that contribute to unique characteristics of many foods, such as eggs from free-ranging hens and beef from pastured cattle. The term was introduced to Americans in the early 2000s by Arlin Wasserman, whose organization, Changing Tastes, helped food-based companies sell their products based on the idea of taste of place,terroir, rather than on price.

Duluth Preserving Company’s jams represent the range of fruits that grow in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota. The company’s co-founders dreamed of using local fruits, not just featuring those tastes, in their jams. It is the tastes of Duluth and its surrounds that led us to canning in the first place.

DPC uses hundreds of pounds each of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, currants, rhubarb, plums, and other fruits each year. These amounts challenge the local food system because there are few growers here who are equipped to sell to wholesale to customers like us.  Local growers sell their fruits to retail customers in smaller amounts than DPC needs for its ongoing jam making. That makes sense for them and for you. Yet it means that the prices of local fruits are higher for us than are the prices of fruits from growers elsewhere who specialize in selling to wholesale customers.

So, does price trump terroir? We answer that question by selecting local ingredients, such as Bar Bell Bee honey and Rogotzke maple syrup, which are available year round in amounts we need. Regional ingredients available year-round include Michigan blueberries and Wisconsin cranberries. When we must choose from further away, we buy the best we can, including fresh apples and wild lingonberries, gooseberries, and red currants from Washington and organic plums from the West Coast and Montana. We finish the jams with fresh lemons, ginger, and limes—hand ground, zested, and juiced.

Our jams are affordable and they taste good. Our customers have said, “The Blueberry Maple Jam tastes like fruit, not like sugar.” “Apple Lemon Ginger Jam = Love.” “The Rhubarb Cinnamon Jam is to die for.” “Love your PlumCardamom!!” “I kick myself for not buying many more jars.”

Try some. Let us know how well you like them.