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The Treatsie May box includes three delicious flavors of pâte de fruit (PAH-duh-FWEE) crafted by Willamette Valley Confectionery in Portland, Oregon. While the company specializes in the firm, jelly-like fruit confections, their products range from toffee and caramel corn to brittle and chocolate bark. Ken Hoyt, owner and head “Candy Man”, talks about fresh ingredients and life in Oregon.
Treatsie: What inspired you to start Willamette Valley Confectionery?
KH: Here in the beautiful Willamette Valley we grow a wide variety of beautiful berries, fruits and nuts (and yes, we do make some stellar wine!). I wanted to make candy that was specifically sourced from our neighbor farms. By going directly to the farm we can guarantee the most beautiful of ingredients.
Treatsie: What makes your pâte de fruit different from other brands?
KH: Our recipe is actually at least 90 years old. We found the perfect recipe in a 1920s French cookbook, pure and simple, it was the right start for us. We have varied it slightly from its beginning to include non-GMO corn glucose. In recent years many confectioners have begun adding additional extract to “bump” the flavor of their pâte — we only add extract when we are making something with a different flavor profile (like our Rose or our Halloween anise bats or cinnamon skulls).
We work with whole fruit, either fresh or flash frozen in its whole state for most* of our pâte de fruits. It is an expensive and crucial step to make our super saturated flavors as rich as possible. *In the past year we have introduced a handful of citrus pâte de fruit to brighten the winter months. They are made with Boiron’s exquisite purees.
Treatsie: What was the process for putting together your Pâte de Fruit, Wine & Cheese Pairing Guide?
KH: Prior to this life I was a food writer and teacher. My contacts in the culinary world were generous to help us create the guide. The guide, however, is far from complete. We invite our friends and fans to send us their ideas and updates.
Treatsie: How are you able to ensure that your products are gluten-free?
KH: We are careful to source only ingredients that are guaranteed gluten-free. Because of expensive government regulations we do not claim to be gluten-free, but rather that our products are made with No Gluten Ingredients.
Treatsie: What’s a typical day like for you?
KH: We don’t have many typical days. As we are a small company and we use no preservatives, we make many of our treats to order. We also make our confections in smaller batches. So our “list” for the kitchen to create changes with the orders that are on the board to ship. So we’re frequently very busy making the candy that will ship that week.
When and where was your last vacation?
What is a vacation?
Favorite all-time movie?
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
What is your favorite thing about living in Oregon?
1. The gentle seasons, 2. The strong Agribusiness presence, 3. The people.