Preserves are meant to last, and that’s doubly true in the case of the blueberry, blackberry and peach varieties now being sold by Mrs. Sassard’s, best known locally for its Jerusalem artichoke relish.
When Allen and Dayna Sassard took over the canned good line launched a century ago by Allen Sassard’s grandmother, one of their first steps was to prune the company’s unwieldy product selection. In 2014, they reintroduced Mrs. Sassard’s as the maker of pickled okra, pepper jelly, a pair of relishes and strawberry preserves. But their intention was to restore earlier favorites as soon as got comfortable in their Duvall Catering kitchen.
“They’re what we call heirloom,” Allen Sassard says of the fruit preserves, iced tomato pickles, iced cucumber pickles, green tomato relish and bread-and-butter pickles now back on the roster. “It really wasn’t something we lost: (My mother) trained me how to put up all these products correctly.”
A number of the revived items are entering a more crowded marketplace than the ones in which their predecessors compete. Peach preserves, for example, are already available at nearly every supermarket and Southern-themed gift shop. Jerusalem artichoke pickles and hot pickled okra, by contrast, usually have shelves to themselves.
But Sassard is confident that the products will stand out.
“It’s not just your normal preserves. It’s really something that speaks of old-fashioned; that speaks of put-together,” Sassard says. “They really jump out of the jar at you.”
That attention-grabbing quality is essential in an area that’s increasingly home to people who don’t recognize the Sassard name, or know Edna Sassard started making relish in her Mount Pleasant kitchen to help pay for home repairs.
“We are reaching out to the newcomers to let them know we’re a local product,” Sassard says. “It’s worth them trying it to see what it’s all about.”
Mrs. Sassard’s is working to build up its presence on local restaurant menus. But in the meantime, newcomers and longtime residents can find its products — including the pickles, preserves and relish returning from sabbatical — at chain stores including Harris Teeter, Total Wine and Walgreens.
A complete list of retail locations is at sassards.com, which also handles online orders. At presstime, though, the e-inventory was limited; shoppers interested in specific items should call 843-345-7620.