Ken and Susan Wiltse run Wiltse Kitchen out of their home in Scotts, MI where they have happily resided for over 47 years. The retired couple began producing their homemade, jams in 2003 when their daughter became market manager of the South Haven Farmer's Market. In Looking for vendors she figured her parents would be a good fit, as they had made homemade jams for years. Over the years, as the South Haven market grew, they added homemade granola and biscotti to their lineup. Besides seeing family every week, they really enjoyed all the locals they got to know, and all the interesting conversations they got to take part in. Eventually their daughter's family moved down south and they made their way to the much closer Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market to continue the tradition, and we are glad they did.
At their Kalamazoo Market stall you can find homemade jams in a variety of flavors including their most popular Red and Purple Raspberry sourced with Michigan fruit and processed with a citrus based pectin, reducing the amount of sugar needed to get that good jam consistency. They also sell homemade granola with high quality raw ingredients such as raw black walnuts and honey in the place of sugar. Speaking of honey they also have honey for sale through their neighbor Dennis McGahan with Mike's Apiaries. While all of the product they sell are great I was most intrigued by the Elderberry Jam. The elderberry plant (Sambucus nigra) is a Michigan native plant that produces small deep purple fruits which are converted into a very attractive jar of Jam. The berry is an antioxidant and boosts the immune system it is also packed with proteins and A, B,and C vitamins. These super-fruits are just catching on with growers in the area so they are mostly wild foraged, which is exactly what Ken does to get the elderberries needed for the Jam.
All of our vendors come to market for different reasons Ken and Susan do what they do to sell high quality homemade goods and provide the people of Kalamazoo with local healthy products. They also enjoy the experience as a whole. Especially meeting with new and returning customers and building relationships with other vendors. Like everyone that comes to market, they learn about new products, growing, and cooking techniques. Their favorite vendors are Trent Thompson, with Green Gardens and Dwight Eichorn with Eichorn Family Farm. They enjoy visiting their stalls because of their ethical farming practices and dedication to land stewardship, not to mention they have some great products!
I had a great time meeting Ken and Susan and I hope you take a moment to meet them too at our Kalamazoo Farmers Market.
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