We recently had the opportunity to meet up with the founders of Appleflats – producers of crabapple jelly and craft cocktail mixers made with locally grown crabapples based out of Perth, Ontario.
How did you get started in this business?
My brother Glen Smyth started the business after having a summer job fall through. We always had a family tradition of picking the crabapple tree that my parents had planted when they finished our home. As kids we tried to pick the entire tree to make crabapple jelly. He picked all the fruit that year and approached a couple of restaurants in Stratford ON to see if they had any interest in adding it to their menu.
The first restaurant he talked to bought everything he made that year. That next year when we went full time we ran out of juice 3 months in and realized that a lot of these trees were being cut down or dying off. That kick-started us going all over Ontario working with universities and local neighborhoods to make sure they keep their trees healthy. We also started planting our own orchard so we can help preserve the species. We now sell our products in over 400 stores throughout Ontario and the western provinces.
Appleflats is an interesting name? How did you come up with it?
The name actually is a blend from my parents and us. My family used to call our house ASH Flats. That name came from a blend of our family names Abernethy, Smyth and Hadley – the founding family members of the property. When some of the family members of the origional property moved on and the Smyth brothers began to plant their crabapple orchard, it developed into Appleflats. There are a lot of ash trees on the property as well and the entire area is unbelievably flat.
What is your most popular product?
The Jellies are a familiar crabapple product (just like mom used to make). For people who have never experienced crabapples, they’re excited to try the new low sugar cocktail mixes.
What is your favourite way to use the crabapple jelly?
I love it on pork chops, instead of applesauce. It is a new interesting flavor to spice up a classic. My brother really likes charcuterie boards, because of the simplicity. Just uncap a jar, spread your other meats, cheeses and dried nuts around it and you’re ready to go.
What are the best spices or flavourings that compliment the crabapple flavour?
Cinnamon is a classic apple pairing, so crabapples here are no different. Nutmeg also works really well. Other than that try using the jelly as a marinade by itself instead of a dry rub.
Do you keep bees for pollination?
We don’t personally, but we do have bees on the property. We partner with Nith Valley Apiaries, located in New Hamburg. Our trees are nonspray, so the bees seem to winter better on our orchard than most other places.
Where can people find your products?
The easiest place to find our products is on the “where to buy” section of the website. Other easy options are Sobeys, Foodland and Metro (GTA Only) are the anchor chains.
We always like supporting the independents though, so if you have an extra 30 seconds, do head over to our website and find the closest local store. There should be one within 10 minutes from where you live, as we have about 430 accounts in Ontario now.
Will you be vending or showcasing your products in any upcoming events?
We will be at the KW food and Wine show this weekend at the Kitchener Aud, The Buy good Feel good show at the Toronto Metro Centre April 12-14. The Seaton Bazaar April 18th, the Wellesley Home shows the 24th to 26th and SIAL Innovation show April 30th to May 1st.
We are also launching our Retail Shop April 20th and the first 50 people to come out get a free bottle of Mix!!
If you can’t make it to one of those, like our facebook page (@Appleflats) or Instagram (@Appleflatsfoods) for more upcoming dates.
Do you have any exciting plans coming up in the future?
We hope to start tours this summer. Anyone interested is welcome to register on our Facebook or Instagram page.
Are you a local business with a story to tell? We’d love to hear from you!
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