Heidi Eleftheriou’s relationship with gardening began at an early age, her parents always had an assortment of fruits and vegetables grown in their garden. But her love for the sweet berries really blossomed when she started making her organic raspberry jams in back in 2000. Heidi had made a contact with a farmer who grew raspberries in Apache Creek, New Mexico, they would meet in the parking lot of Sam’s Club to purchase his picked berries and then she would make her jam in her kitchen to sell at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
|Heidi Eleftheriou at her office in Albuquerque.|
That’s where it all began, with the simple desire to make a quality product using as many local ingredients as possible that were organic. Her jams soon became popular with the locals and she purchased property in Corrales where she could grow her own raspberries to make her jam. Along with the land, she brought in some wild turkeys to curb the pest population. Because Heidi doesn’t use any chemicals to rid her raspberry fields of pests like grasshoppers, she resorted to an alternative solution; one that keeps her turkeys well fed and U-pick visitors entertained. Heidi says of her turkeys, “they don’t even like the raspberries, which I’m sure they would eat if they didn’t have another source of food. They just prefer roaming the farm eating the bugs.” Since the entire property is enclosed, they don’t have to worry about being eaten by coyotes or another predator. Her wild turkeys could always fly away but are more than content and well fed on Heidi’s farm.
She had purchased and planted “everbearing” (unlike the summer bearing raspberries) that have done extremely well in the soil of Corrales and now Los Lunas where she has fresh raspberries from August through to the first freeze. Heidi’s farm became USDA certified organic in 2005 and her kitchen certified in 2006. Instead of using high fructose corn syrup like the majority of jams out on the market, Heidi uses all organic cane sugar. Each small batch is made by hand bringing the raspberries up to a slow boil and adding the sugar, which keeps the vibrant color intact. For her red chile raspberry jam, she incorporates crushed red chiles (all organic as well) coming from a farm out of Polvadera, a small town just north of Socorro.
I asked Heidi what gave her the idea to start making raspberry jam and she said, “I just wanted a good homemade jam. It’s the ultimate compliment when people tell me that it tastes just like their grandmothers jam.”
This past year, Heidi introduced a new flavor, her raspberry lavender jam, which is delicious like all her other four flavors. I was able to witness the making of one of her “small batches” of jam, which is indeed small but the largest quantity of jams I’ve ever seen made.
As the “Chile Chica,” I was thrilled she invited me to red chile raspberry jam day! After the sugar was added, a barrel of red chile flakes with the seeds were incorporated to the gooey sweet batch. The red chile quickly integrated into the mixture making the red stew of sweet berries even more vibrant. After a set amount of cook time, the jam was carefully inserted into each jar which was then sealed and labeled.
You can find Heidi’s jams by visiting any New Mexican Whole Foods, several of the northern New Mexican farmers markets, La Montanita Co-Op or by going to her website. We will also be giving away some of her jams as a part of our grand ChileChica Giveaway!
To be eligible to win the #ChileChicaGiveaway - one item from each of the 12 Days of New Mexico Christmas (valued at over $200!) - you will need to do to the following:
1. Repost any of the "12 Days" as they are posted now through December 23rd on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - feel free to repost older days you have already read as well!
2. Include the hashtag #ChileChicaGiveaway on all your reposts!
3. Follow New Mexico Chiles; History, Legend and Lore on Facebook.
4. Follow The Chile Film on Facebook.
Post everyday for your best chance to win. Each post will count as an additional entry; limit one per day per social media platform. We will announce the winner on Christmas Eve, and remember to have your privacy settings public so we can see your posts!