Memories come in a jar

Sam McNeish
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Tradition keeps father's memory close for Hardie

OXFORD Harvest season is always a special time for Donna Hardie.

Not only does she get a fresh batch of fruits and vegetables she turns into great home made delicacies, it marks a special time for her to recount memories of how her love of baking and cooking all began.

Memories come in a jar

OXFORD Harvest season is always a special time for Donna Hardie.

Not only does she get a fresh batch of fruits and vegetables she turns into great home made delicacies, it marks a special time for her to recount memories of how her love of baking and cooking all began.

About 15 years ago was when I started doing this with my father, she said.

He did it and I helped. I loved spending time with him and when he passed, I kept on doing it. Its a way for me to honour and remember him, she added.

For Hardie, despite the hard, tedious work, she enjoys everything about cutting up the ingredients, sweating over the stove, washing the bottles and bottling the items to complete the process.

For her, its a labour of love.

I always think of dad when I do this. Many times I say I wish he could be here.

Everyone has a secret recipe or that special something that separates recipes from the rest and makes them unique.

Hardies wares are no different.

She has a recipe passed down to her for mustard relish that she keeps as secret as the mysteries of Area 51. It has its own unique taste and those who purchase the item from her rave about it everywhere.

Merrill Murray at Cumberland Honda always buys it from me. Its his favourite. He told me he grew up in a family where homemade was the way to go and this is the best hes had, Hardie said.

In addition to the relish, she makes jams and jellies and makes pickled beets. At seasons end, she has about 400 bottles, give or take, completed for sale. Of that total, 250 are relish and roughly 75 each of jam and beets.

She keeps a few but most are sold to friends and family. From year-to-year, she has the same people place orders and when others sample her wares, additional orders come in and thus the number of batches and bottles go up.

Making these items by hand is the key and Hardie says thats what makes them unique.

I cut up everything by hand and cook them on top of the stove. While things are cooking, I wash the bottles and get ready to can everything, she said.

The old fashioned way is the best.

To ensure her product remains consistent, there is only about a one-month period where berries and vegetables can be obtained to make these items. Once they are available, her days become arduous and long, as she will work late into the night after working all day at her regular job.

However, she enjoys doing it and like most, claims its quite relaxing.

smcneish@amherstdaily.com

Geographic location: OXFORD

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