They say good things come in small packages, but that may be too general—in Vancouver, good things come in jars. In the last few years, as local retailers have gained massive traction, the city has seen a bevy of delectable delights distributed in the popular glass containers. Whether it’s the nostalgia they evoke—it’s difficult not to think of grandma canning fruit in a Mason jar—or their simple aesthetic that perfectly suits those looking for a more rustic pantry, jars are jamming (sometimes literally).
In only a few years, Kits Kitchen has seen its soup business soar. The company, founded by food industry novices Joni Lind and Amy Kizaki, came to be when Lind began bringing soup to work as a healthy and satisfying lunch. It wasn’t long before the soups became a hit around the office, with co-workers offering to pay Lind for some of the good stuff. Just like that, a business idea was born. Lind joined forces with Kizaki to create a line of soups made with locally-sourced ingredients from around the province that ditched wheat, diary, and the preservatives found in most competitors. The result is a soup experience similar to what mom used to make. “We’ve always kept our soups really simple,” says Kizaki. “We do use spices, but not a lot. We really let the natural flavours of the vegetables come through.” Kits Kitchen offers a minimum of four types to choose from, with the lineup changing depending on the season. The duo believes in providing meals that truly give the body what it needs—and nothing it doesn’t—and that mantra has carried the business to unforeseen heights. Kits Kitchen products (including jams) can now be found in over 60 locations across British Columbia, including Whole Foods and The Juicery Co.
Kids Can Cook Pasta Sauce That Rocks
In keeping with the theme of things that are small but awesome, there is Kids Can Cook Gourtmet’s Pasta Sauce That Rocks, which is available in three flavours: Creamy Tomato, Marina, and Tomato and Basil. The brand skyrocketed into the public consciousness after adorable kid siblings Chloe and Skylar Sinow appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den last year (they were successful) to promote their cookbook and line of all-natural, made-in-Canada pasta sauces. “We’re the only kids in Canada making pasta sauce and selling it in stores,” says Skylar, who adds that his working relationship with his sister helps them avoid most sibling squabbles. “It forces us to get along. You can’t fight with your business partner. It’s been really great.” While the two are fantastically charming business people—their official titles are Le Petit Chef and Recipe Creator (Skylar) and Director of Marketing & Fun (Chloe)—their youthful enterprise isn’t shtick: the sauce packs serious flavour and has graduated to stores like Save-On-Foods, Urban Fare, and The Dirty Apron’s Delicatessen.
East Van Jam
When mother of two Natalie Ferrari-Morton decided to be a stay-at-home mom, that didn’t mean she was done working, and she knew she needed an outlet. Initially, Ferrari-Mortan taught people how to can, but after three years of using a low-sugar jam recipe to teach home preservation, students began asking where they could buy her spread—and so, East Van Jam came to be. The low-sugar aspect became a core value of the business, as Ferrari-Morton wanted to provide an alternative to the traditionally less healthy versions. “The jams have a very fruity flavour, often tart,” she says. “The most common reaction I hear is, ‘Wow, it just takes like the fruit.’ And that is a big compliment.” All of the fruits are sourced right here in Vancouver, which is an important aspect for Ferrari-Morton; another key distinction is the branding. “If I was going to work with a traditional product, I wanted to make sure it was clear it was a different product,” she explains. So she connected with artist Scott Bilstad to design a custom, playful persona for each East Van Jam flavour, such as Black Berry Jack or the Tom Cat tomato spread. The cheeky characters can be picked up at spots including Harvest Community Foods, Edible Canada, and Le Marche St. George.
Meat and Bread’s Sambal Sauce
Local lunch hot spot Meat and Bread allows you to take some of the zest home with you in the form of its Salt Rub and Mustard, but the real star of the jar show is its Sambal sauce. This incredibly versatile product is a major favourite among Vancouverites thanks to its distinct spicy-sweet flavour that won’t set fire to your taste buds. Made up of salt, sugar, red peppers, serrano peppers, vinegar, and garlic, Sambal sauce is as straightforward as it gets, but executive chef and operational manager Terry Somerville says it keeps with Meat and Bread’s overall philosophy. “That’s the whole thing behind Meat and Bread: we try to keep everything super simple,” he explains. “Really well done, fresh ingredients made in-house. It’s that easy.” Sambal is versatile, pairing well with your morning eggs, French fries, or barbecued meats. “The only thing you wouldn’t want to put it on is dessert, but who knows,” jokes Somerville. The Sambal sauce is available at all Meat and Bread locations, as well as through the locally-minded Givopoly online order service.
These products prove there’s life beyond serving mojitos or potting plants in Mason jars. Made in Canada and with care, they champion the jar’s true purpose: protecting something delicious, until it’s time to consume with the familiar pop of the air seal and the intoxicating smell of whatever sits waiting inside.
Read more of what British Columbia has to offer here.