Mindful & Tasty Belcour Preserves
Robin Lim Lumsden had always dreamt about creating Jamaican products that could be marketed internationally, it seemed a realistic life goal whilst watching her grandfather Peter Desnoes, creator of Red Stripe do this.
Starting Belcour Preserves was a culmination of her passion for cooking and gardening; and a belief that Jamaica should produce and process more of its natural, indigenous, delicious, spices, herbs, fruit and vegetables and sell these flavours and sauces to a hungry world. The demand for ethnic, specialty, all natural, artesian, gourmet foods and culinary travel has continued to grow and so has her belief that Jamaican products should take advantage of these emerging trends.
Robin began with a few traditional, family recipes for sauces, chutneys & jams and five years later, in 2010 the company was presented at New York’s Fancy Food Show. Her family & friends have been her biggest supporters and continued to encourage her to “just do it”. She believes that aspiring entrepreneurs need that type of nurturing because they say the first 7 years when forming a company are the hardest.
Robin’s food philosophy is very simple: good food begins with fresh, delicious ingredients. Belcour Preserves start their sauces and jams with firm, yellow Scotch Bonnets, bunches of fresh thyme, parsley and mint, sweet, red tomatoes, scallions, carrots, guavas and citrus fruit and refuse to add any chemicals, additives or preservatives to them.
Robin confesses to love stirring the pot with the fumes of the pimento rising through the steam and permeating the air, as the chutney of jam gurgles happily below. “I find it both hypnotic and therapeutic. The recipes are personal and filled with memories for me.”
“Some of our recipes I believe have even been gifts or happy accidents, like our Honey Jerk sauce. I started trying to create our jerk sauce ironically following a Walkerswood recipe for making jerk. I didn’t like how it tasted at first, so added it to something else I was in the process of making at the time and ada bing, bada boom out came our Honey Jerk Sauce. They say the universe helps you when you find your passion…so here was my living proof.
Fate and will both play a role in shaping one’s life. We moved to my parents home Belcour Lodge12 years ago, after my parents passed away. Belcour is a beautiful and peaceful place. The valley is surrounded by the Blue Mountains and with the Mammee River running through the bottom orchard. Only 15 minutes out of Kingston, it has the best of worlds, the rural countryside and proximity to the city. It was a coffee plantation in the 1800s and we live in the original old, wooden, overseer’s house.
Some years ago we also started raising bees on a bit of a whim and now we have about 80 live buzzing colonies. The bees have been the happy recipients of my passion for gardening and the muli-flora honey they produce is delicious. As we began to learn more about the health giving benefits of honey, we decided to add honey to each of our jams and condiments and this has become one of our signatures, giving our products a roundness and richness of flavour. “
The naming of Belcour Preserves came about through from its location name and the fact that a preserve is a jam made from fruit, not from a puree, which is how Belcour Preserves make their jams, with bits of the fruit in them. Robin likes the concept of preservation, how it connotes a reverence for the sanctity of life. “I believe we need to mindfully preserve our planet, and its resources, our bodies, our freedoms and the well being of all the world’s inhabitants. When the sun crests the surrounding mountain ridges at about 7:30 AM and the bees make their beeline into the misty morning, and the birdsong is in full throat, I look out at the red flowers of the Flame of the Forest trees, which dot the verdant valley and sit on our verandah, a cup of Blue Mountain coffee in hand, and behold the magic of this place with gratitude.”