About two years ago, we wrote a review of the pickled food offerings of Tillen Farms. This year at the Boston Wine Expo, we got to see what was new from Tim Metzger, CEO of Tillen Farms, and this was his first dabbling into the realm of fruit with jarred Merry Maraschino Cherries.
Like all of Tillen Farm offerings the cherries are all natural and only come from the best growers and processors located in the Pacific Northwest of Oregon and Washington. Having loved the wonderful vegetables of Tillen Farms and having a family of maraschino cherry lovers, we were excited to give them a try. A taste test (blindfolded, no less) showed what we expected. The Tillen Farms maraschino cherries have a richer, more robust taste. It lacked the candied fakeness of store-bought canned cherries and even had a hint of licorice taste. My kids thought they were a much better choice to go into the beverage creations that they usually make.
My interview of Tim consisted of one question, “Why cherries?”
Tim’s eloquent and detailed answer:
i. Firstly I wanted to expand beyond pickled vegetables and look at complimentary products, preferably at products that are not so “crop driven.” I can order cherries year round, which is ideal for me. When I order asparagus, I’ve got to be prepared to hold inventory for 46 weeks!
ii. We recently repositioned Tillen Farms as “The world of stirrers has been shaken.” We believe one of the most popular usage occasions for our veggies is as a swizzle stick in Bloody Marys. Looked at from the viewpoint of a drink mix amenity, the cherry is a natural line extension of our veggie line.
iii. The maraschino cherry enjoys a particularly dubious reputation going back generations. I still get questions from otherwise intelligent consumers asking me if it’s true that it takes 7 years for maraschino cherries to dissolve in your stomach. There are few products sold today that are so chock full of chemicals. Our challenge was simply to create a superior tasting cherry without all the chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or corn syrup. We think the result is a cherry that is vastly preferred by just about everyone who samples it.
iv. Our heritage is from The Hogue Cellars, a leading (Northwest) Winery located in Washington. Virtually all our vegetables are grown within a 100 mile radius of our factory in Sunnyside, Washington. And on our label, we emphatically state, “Fresh from the Pacific Northwest.” One of the strongest trends I’ve observed over the past few years is the need for real product authenticity. Consumers today are demanding to know where to products come from. The Pacific Northwest is widely known for their fruits and vegetables. Tillen Farms is widely viewed by the trade and consumers as being “best in class” so we wanted to leverage our commitment to the geographic region on the pack itself. I felt the cherries would be quickly identified as a terrific tasting, “clean” product from Tillen Farms who already has that reputation.
If you are looking for great maraschino cherries to make your next cocktail special, give Tillen Farms’ Merry Maraschino Cherries a try.