WESTPORT, Conn. – It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to three days for Westport native Jane Costello to get her pickled green beans or her spiced peaches into jars and be ready for sale as Jane’s Good Food in farmers markets and local stores around Fairfield County.
Canning has been a part of her life since she was a child, Costello said. Many of her recipes came from her grandmother, who had moved from Czechoslovakia to Nebraska.
“She did everything,” Costello said, especially during the Great Depression. Everything that could be canned or preserved was at that time, she said. “My mother was very insistent that I learn.”
Many of her recipes, which Costello said she had to pry out of her own mother, have been passed down to her through her family. Even so, she was told to not just take the recipe but to make it her own.
“I inherited a lot of my mother's canning equipment,” Costello said, adding that many of those items were also her grandmother's. “It’s like they’re with me all the time in the kitchen.”
But “I needed my own identity in life,” Costello said. Once she realized that her friends were coming back to her with empty canning jars and asking for more of her dill pickles or green beans, it was a no-brainer for what she could do.
Three years ago Jane’s Good Food was born, and it has been a thriving part of the local farmers market scene ever since.
“These are really timeworn recipes that are simple yet full of flavor,” Costello said. “This is my way of saying, 'Come to my kitchen.'”
Everything she sells is seasonal and has at least one ingredient that was grown locally in Connecticut. It’s usually the main ingredient – the vegetables.
On many occasions, she’s not just selling at the Westport Farmers Market. She’s also shopping, picking up bushels of green beans and cucumbers to pickle for her own products to sell the next week.
From early spring, she says she makes dill pickles, relish, dilly beans, rosemary walnuts and her own house dressing.
In the fall, she starts making her favorite product, spiced colonial peaches, a product that takes days to get from start to the finished product in the jar.
Her hope is that in the future she can keep her small batch feel for her products but become a national brand, selling her canned goods across the country.
But she rarely lets her kids help. “I really don’t want other people doing it,” Costello said. It's partly because she doesn't want to share the recipes but also because “it’s my baby.”
To find where you can buy Jane’s Good Food visit her website here .
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