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 twelve bottles of jam or hot sauce and we were making sixty bottles and that soon 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 the demand grew we started selling to larger stores until Outrigger Ltd. became our distributor to supermarkets around the island.
Our house however is still a full-fledged, micro-business with honey bottling going on in the "honey room" in the basement. Often we have a couple of women either labeling or washing and peeling massive crates of fruits and vegetables downstairs. We grow guava, pine, and citrus at Belcour but the volume of fruit and pepper, etc needed has long since outstripped our ability to grow that amount so we now buy from local farmers all around the island.
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.
Over the years we have developed relationships with many local farmers. We use locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables to make our condiments because we think Jamaican ginger, guavas, Scotch Bonnets, pimento, etc are some of the best in the world and they make our products taste 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 planet. For that reason, our company's mission is "Preserving Tradition".
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 2006 we decided to buy two colonies of bees. They arrived one Sunday morning. 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. We gleefully stood around eating large chunks of the delicious comb until we were drunk from the sweet honey. A year later we had 10 colonies and a few years later we had fifty colonies. 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, a variety of palm blossoms. The variety of flowering trees, the myriad flowers from the garden and the surrounding mountains to produce a delicious multiflora, 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.