The Canning Experience

I began making my relish in earnest, after I gave Holly Kreb a sample, using her Pepperwood tomatoes, Bell peppers and onions, grown on her farm that is basically on the same land where the Boehm’s Café used to be. Kind of a full circle, if you think about it. She was so encouraging and full of enthusiasm, about my idea to revive my parents' recipe, that I came away feeling that I could do almost anything.

I talked to a mutual friend, Cherie Anaya, owner of the Hot Brew Bistro (904 S. Fortuna Blvd., Fortuna, CA 95540 707-725-2361), for her ideas, and she generously offered her restaurant kitchen to me, free of charge. She also suggested I use space in her busy establishment to sell my product. This was so kind but she has a big heart and remembered, from experience, how difficult it is to start a business on your own, with mostly only your creative energy and hard work.

So I began preparing and canning after hours there and displayed my relish in an old antique red cupboard, with a newspaper write-up and a photo of the Life magazine cover that showed our restaurant up-ended after the flood. I can never repay Cherie’s kindness.

The next year, I had to make larger quantities so I rented the commercial kitchen at the Ferndale Fairgrounds and I continue to use the kitchens there, as I have expanded my products and output.

I have a small group of women friends who offer their time, out of the kindness of their hearts, to help me clean, cut and grind the produce for the relish. Once the pots are cooking, we all go have lunch and then about 3 ½ hours later, when the consistency is just right, it is canned. It’s a 10 hour work day for me.

Before it goes on the shelf, labels are affixed, material is cut for the decorative top, and an historical note with photos is attached with a brass pin. I call it “dressing the jar” and it takes a lot of time and patience, especially if you have some arthritis in your fingers.

It’s a labor of love, I’ll admit that, but I am proud to bring this lovely jar of my parents' 60 + year old relish out to the public once again. It’s worth all the work when I hear someone exclaim, “Oh, I just love this stuff!”