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Thursday, August 18, 2022
Jam Queen Kim McQuhae wins Premier Exhibitor at Winter Fair

Kim McQuhae of Gryphon Ridge Highlands on Larkin Road has made a name for herself with exotic and obscure jams – now she’s being officially recognized as the Premier Exhibitor for Jams and Jellies at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

McQuhae has experimented with different varieties and flavours of jams since the moment she decided to utilize the excess fruit on her farm.

“I had fruit trees, and the fruit would fall and then I was overrun with bees. I asked my neighbour what she does about the bees, and she said, “Kim, why don’t you make jam.””

She began testing out recipes in 2006 and received overwhelming support from friends.

“I brought some into The Buttery where I was working, and the owner set up a shelf and started selling them,” she said.

She’s since won countless awards for her selections.

“I have been very fortunate. In 2013 I won grand champion and judges’ choice and a whole bunch of stuff,” she said.

McQuhae said it’s a lot of work to make the jams, of which she’s had up to 200 different varieties at once, but she’s no stranger to hard work. As well as crafting the flavourable spreads, she also runs Gryphon Ridge Highlands, a livestock farm specializing in naturally raised beef from registered purebred Highland cattle. Creating natural products locally is important to McQuhae, she said, which is why most of the ingredients used in her jams are from right on the farm.

“I get whatever I can from right here. I grow my peppers in the garden, I take the apples from the trees. If I can’t get something from my farm, I’ll trade where I can,” she said.

McQuhae has been participating in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for about as long as she’s been making jam. This year, she said she’s ecstatic to have earned the high distinction of Premier Exhibitor.

“Well, I get bragging rights,” she said, adding that it will be nice to be able to feature the award-winning jams at the markets next year.

She sells at several markets throughout the year and is most often recognized at the Farmer’s Market at the Village in the summer. There, she said she’s often taken suggestions or requests from marketgoers looking for something a little different.

“There was a guy at one of the markets, and he said to me, “My favourite drink is The Godfather,” which is amaretto and Crown Royal over ice, “Can you make that into a jelly?” And I made one, and that one actually jumped right off the shelf,” she said.

Made with Amaretto, Crown Royal and cherry juice, “to give it flavour.” McQuhae said it was one of her top sellers.

This year the Town of NOTL is also going to be attending the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to promote the town.