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Wandering inspires jars full of taste

Nancy Warner (left) of Potlicker Kitchen with her twin sister, Susan Hemphill, at the Vermont Cheese Festival in August.
Nancy Warner (left) of Potlicker Kitchen with her twin sister, Susan Hemphill, at the Vermont Cheese Festival in August. Rachel Ellner for The Boston Globe

For Nancy Warner, what may be more institutionally termed “research and development” is her wandering in Vermont fields. Warner, the founder and recipe developer at Potlicker Kitchen in Stowe, has a knack for unconventional yet seductively tasty jams and jellies. Peach Basil? Cabernet Black Pepper Wine Jelly? Maple Stout Beer Jelly? She offers these and more.

She attributes her flavor oeuvre to her restless nature and to field experience as an anthropologist. She says she also recalls memories of great tastes on her walks. Her recollections are stimulated by various plants and other things she finds, which form new tastes and flavors in her imagination.


These memories, longings, and indulgent pairings inspire gently tantalizing flavors like Raspberry Smoked Maple and Blueberry Sage, or ones more walloped with intensity like Blueberry Bourbon and Sunshine Citrus Marmalade.

She says she does not have to wait for spring and summer. Nature is always at play, and come wintertime, ale, beer, and coffee pairings fill her jars.

Warner is confident that she can replicate her imagined flavors in the kitchen. For instance, cranberry horseradish jelly came from wanting to replicate a Thanksgiving Day sandwich she once had in town. “It’s a specific inspiration or craving. It’s things I want to eat,” she says.

Her Carrot Cake Jam, which includes shredded carrots, pineapple, pear, coconut, and golden raisins, is the most awarded product in her collection. Her small batch creations include ingredients like knotweed, dandelion, and sumac.

Warner finesses the flavors without an overload of sweetener. Part of her methodology is to see how little sugar she needs.

In some ways this extends beyond the peanut butter-and-jelly experience most of us share, although at least two of her flavors, Rhubarb Balsamic and Coffee Jelly, work well in that slap-happy combo. Pepper Jelly with cream cheese is also a good match. Warner grew up in Florida, hence Pineapple Habanero Jam. On a midday slice of toast, it’s a simple, exquisite change of pace, neither overly hot nor caloric.


The products of her roaming are well suited for cooking salmon, pork roast, hand pies, beer jelly wings and even for popsicles. A clever and especially versatile recipe is fruit jam pie.

Potlicker Kitchen jams and jellies are sold in 9-ounce jars throughout Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, or can be ordered at www.potlickerkitchen
for $8 each plus shipping.

Rachel Ellner can be reached at rellner@gmail.com.