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The New York Times July 31, 2007

By FLORENCE FABRICANT

PB&J Upgrade: Breaking Out the Good Stuff

Stick to your old-fashioned roots and the market will eventually wake up. Take the Koeze Company’s Cream-Nut peanut butter, for example. It has been made in Grand Rapids, Mich., from dark-roasted Virginia peanuts since 1925. Coarsely ground in small batches and lightly seasoned with sea salt, it is neither creamy nor chunky but totally irresistible.

Jeff Koeze (pronounced COO-zee ) runs the company, and is the fourth generation of his family to do so. He uses vintage slow-grinding machines to produce exceptionally nutty-tasting peanut butter, which has been sold nationally for only the past year or so. When freshly made, it is well emulsified into a creamy consistency. The oil eventually floats to the top and has to be stirred back in. This does not affect quality, only convenience.

Fairway and Barney Greengrass stores have new shipments. Zabar’s also sells it, as do Marlow & Sons and Stinky Bklyn in Brooklyn. A list of other stores is at creamnut.com. A 17-ounce jar is about $6.

And to go with your peanut butter? Jelly, of course. These days, many preserves are touted as being “all fruit” with “no added sugar.” All that means is that syrupy grape or apple concentrates are used as sweeteners, with minimal reduction in calories. Oregon Growers and Shippers, which sells a line of preserves that use seasonal fruit grown on small farms in the Pacific Northwest, bucks this trend. Its preserves are sweetened with cane sugar, tipping the scale in favor of fruit.

A dozen flavors include marionberries, huckleberries, cherries and strawberries. Most are $6.50 for a 12-ounce jar from growersandshippers.com. In New York, Ideal Cheese Shop sells the jars for $5.95. The huckleberry is $8.95 but out of stock until next month.

This article originally appeared in July 31, 2007 issue of The New York Times.

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