How it all began
Belcour Preserves is the quintessential "stovetop to supermarket" story. It began as a hobby stirring up concoctions in the kitchen. The idea was to make the types of condiments the traditional way that tasted similar to the homemade tomato chutney or Seville orange marmalade that our grandmother or father-in-law would give us at Christmas time. In the beginning, we gave away bottles of condiments to family members and friends. We were encouraged by their response and soon instead of making only twelve bottles of jam or hot sauce and we were making sixty bottles. That quickly outgrew the capacity of our kitchen and we had to move the production to a factory. Initially, we sold the products at farmers' markets and at fairs. We knew that we were onto something when requests came in for cases of the products. As demand grew we started selling to larger stores, restaurants and hotels. We were fortunate in establishing a relationship with Outrigger Ltd., which became our distributor to high-end supermarkets around the island.
Belcour house is still a full-fledged, micro-business with honey bottling going on in the "honey room". We employ a small team of people to harvest honey, label products, or prepare massive crates of fruit and vegetables in preparation for taking them to the factory for processing.
Our products are still made in small batches, the old-fashioned way, and without adding any artificial ingredients. They have a two-year shelf-life and are proof that chemical additives are unnecessary to making these condiments. We called the business Belcour Preserves because we are preserving fruit and vegetables but also preserving tradition.
Working with Local Farmers
Over the years we have developed relationships with many local farmers. We use locally-sourced, fresh, vegetables and to make our condiments because Jamaican fruits, vegetables and spices such as ginger, guavas, Scotch Bonnets, thyme, pimento are some of the best in the world. They make our products taste truly delicious. We also believe it important for our economy to support our farmers and Jamaica's agriculture and by buying locally and importing less, we help to preserve our natural environment. We are committed to the concept of trying to preserve our culture and our environment and for that reason, our company's mission is "Preserving Tradition".
Becoming Bee Farmers
Some years after moving to Belcour we turned the seven-acre property into a productive farm. We grow pineapples, citrus guava, and a large variety of fruit trees. In thinking about other ways to engage in sustainable food production, we became interested in beekeeping. One bright Sunday morning in 2006 we received the first two colonies of bees, and a few months later reaped our first bucket of honey. We drained the honey through a muslin cloth into a bucket in the evening when the bees had gone to sleep and gleefully stood around eating large chunks of the delicious comb until we were honey-drunk from the sweet bounty. A year later we had ten colonies and a few years later that multiplied to fifty. Honey was the first product we sold. We also started adding a small amount to each batch of jam or hot sauce to "round out" the flavour. We found that the honey made everything more delicious. Honey is our "secret" ingredient.
Bees are mythical and fascinating creatures. Our bees feed on mango, guava, ackee, citrus, avocado, Spanish elm, ebony and a variety of palm blossoms. They also have access to countless flowering trees as well as a myriad of flowers from the garden and the surrounding mountains to produce a delicious, multifloral honey. In addition, the activity of the bees greatly increased the yield of our ortaniques and guavas. Natural honey is one of the world’s most beloved foods and the structure, order, and sense of purpose of the bees are wondrous to observe.