When Karen Pattison bottles up local crops using the age-old tradition of preserving fruits and vegetables, she’s also preserving fond memories of her childhood in Willow Point near Campbell River.
Now the owner of Bite Size Specialty Foods, she grew up eating tasty veggies from her grandparents’ garden in their neighbouring property. And after a lifetime of gratitude for these home-grown harvests, Karen began pickling and preserving local produce and selling her culinary creations full time in 2005.
She started out selling her specialties to friends and at the Pier Street Farmers’ Market in Campbell River when, as fate would have it, a manager from Thrifty Foods bought her hot peppers and experienced a serious wow factor – taking her from local yumminess to Canada-wide culinary genius.
He introduced her to the top deli manager, resulting in a new distribution channel for her products. And her timing was perfect – when he moved to Tsawwassen he took her products to the new Thrifty’s location, bringing our local bounty to the mainland.
This sweet and savoury specialty food business brings wonderful goodness in a rainbow of colours to locals as well as foodies from across the continent while keeping that homemade feel.
Bite Size products are handmade in small batches to ensure high quality and are 100% free of perservatives and additives, allowing for veggies that are fresh and crunchy with a tantalizing taste. No wonder repeat customers from as far away as eastern Canada and the U.S. jump online to the Bite Size website to order more.
Over 95% of Bite Size produce is local, except for the peaches and apricots that Karen sources from the Okanagan. Some of the local growers that make up every delicious bite include Courtenay’s Nature’s Way Farms for their luscious blueberries and Black Creek’s Pattison Farms(run by her brother Gerry in Black Creek) for their delectable certified organic peppers.
Karen’s handmade pickles, ranging from mild to extra hot, are preserved from crops of asparagus, carrots, green beans and peppers. Mild is the way to go for the kiddos and they’ll love the tangy taste. Onions, garlic and a melody of mixed veggies round out the pickling selection.
For something different, try a cuke relish with beer horseradish and cranberry. Bite Size’s many varieties of jam (some sugarless) offer great fruit combinations including apricot raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, plum raspberry, and peach strawberry. Or for a single taste sensation, pick up some bumbleberry, blackberry or cherry.
Their top seller locally and abroad is raspberry pepper jelly, likely for it’s tangy sweetness. Other faves are peach habanero jelly and blueberry pepper jelly – great served with crackers and cheese or with meat recipes for the bbq. The hottest jelly is and is aptly named Extremely Hot Habenero Pepper Jelly.
Be sure to heed the warning on the jar, this one is not for the faint of heart!
In addition to online orders, Bite Size Specialty Foods are available at Brambles, Beyond the Kitchen Door, Kingfisher Resort, Natural Pastures Cheese, Nature’s Way Farm, Seaview Game Farm, Thrifty Foods, Tomato Tomato and Seeds Natural Food Market.
And watch for Karen’s samples at select retail spaces – but get it before it’s gone – she was at Granville Island recently and dished out over 1,100 samples in three hours.
It just goes to show that the taste of our Valley is spreading over to the mainland, and what a testament to the great tenacity of our local food producers to meet the demand for such fresh flavour.
But we don’t have to travel far. Be sure to check out Bitesizespecialityfoods.com for more product info and recipe ideas.