Gwen Fowler



A Taste of South Carolina: Vegetable Kingdom

Posted 7/15/2013 2:18:00 PM

Ann Gassenheimer has been recreating favorite family recipes for years, but when she and husband Pat Gallagher moved to Beaufort a few years ago, the two of them turned her cooking talents into a new business.

They created Vegetable Kingdom, and now they’re canning and selling jams, jellies, chutneys, marmalades, salad dressings and sauces.

When the two moved to South Carolina from Montgomery, Ala., Gassenheimer immediately took advantage of the area’s bounty of produce in the summer and began perfecting some family recipes. Gallagher, who had been an architect for years, became more interested in food and farming.

Gallagher said his wife makes chow chow from a recipe she can trace back 150 years, passed on to her by her grandmother and mother. Grannie’s Green Tomato Chow Chow is made with green tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, onions and hot peppers.

Some of the combinations are enough to make your mouth water, especially chocolate blueberry jam, chocolate strawberry jam and chocolate orange jam. There also are caramel apple butter, cranberry apple relish and grapefruit lemon lime marmalade.

One that I’ve tried on toast is watermelon berry jam, and the label also suggests serving it on goat or blue cheese for an appetizer. The flavors of watermelon and berries come through strong, and there isn’t as much sugar as in some jellies and jams.

Vegetable Kingdom is a Certified South Carolina product and a member of the South Carolina Specialty Food Association

They grow much of their fruits and vegetables and also buy from local farmers. They recently moved into a new facility at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 21 in Gardens Corner.

“Finally after all these years of using other peoples’ kitchens -- church kitchens, barbecue joints – we have our own production kitchen.” Gallagher said.

The kitchen has allowed them to add some bigger equipment, including a 40-gallon kettle.

Recently, Gassenheimer has been trying out recipes for gluten-free breads and desserts, as well as several types of pickles.

One of the first places Gallagher and Gassenheimer sold their products was at the Port Royal Farmers Market. They’ve also been regulars at the Forsyth Farmers Market in Savannah and recently added the Bluffton Farmers Market

Vegetable Kingdom products are for sale at specialty shops throughout South Carolina and other states and at Whole Foods Markets in the southeastern region. I bought jam at Five Rivers Market in Orangeburg, which I wrote about earlier this year.

You can also shop online, and several products are available through Amazon

You can go here to see some of Gassenheimer’s recipes and for ideas on how to use Vegetable Kingdom products.