1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.


Capturing Nature in a Jar, with Bals Provisions

13 Jan 2020

Even though she grew up with jars of jam and marinades, it wasn’t until she was an adult that Crystal Porcher discovered the joy of capturing the fruits of nature in jars. Inspired by fresh products from farmer’s markets, she founded Bals Provisions… much to our taste buds’ delight!

Revisiting a family tradition

“When I was little, my mother and my grandmother would can at home. I would watch them do it… but I’d never join in!” Crystal says with a laugh. It was only much later that she felt the desire to dive into this tradition. “When I was about 25 years old, I learned to make salsa and to can it. That’s when I said to myself, ‘Oh, this isn’t so hard. I can do this!’” She then founded Bals Provisions in Montreal.

Many of her recipes are borrowed from family and friends, like the one for pickled gherkins that came from her grandmother and her mother’s pickled bean recipe, which Crystal has made a bit spicier than the original.
Over five years later, this jam maker is still as passionate about fruits and vegetables as ever. Her imagination switches into high gear when she visits the market! “I have my favourite recipes, but I like to be inspired by what’s at the markets. I go four days out of every week, whether its to Jean-Talon Market or the little market at Laurier metro! I’m a creative person and wouldn’t be happy always making the same things. I see what comes in at the market and I alternate between products that sell well and new creations.

Did you say Boozetella?

Speaking of new creations, Crystal is proud to present Boozetella, her boozy spin on the famous chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella! “In Quebec, chocolate hazelnut spread is extremely popular. I’m personally a huge fan of chocolate, and most people love chocolate with wine… I thought why not combine all three?” Her Boozetella recipe is distinctly different from the commercial product she was inspired by, first of all because Crystal only uses top-grade dark chocolate, which gives this spread a more “adult” flavour and a silky texture. “My spread is a bit rich, so I like to serve it on fruit or ice cream, but I have friends who eat it right out of the jar with a spoon!”

The advantage of terroir

In addition to being fine products that utterly delight, jams and marinades offer a real advantage in the kitchen: they allow you to eat locally all year long. “I believe that particularly in Quebec, we have this notion of terrior that people are appreciating more and more. Tasting fruits and vegetables in season is such a different experience. When you harvest them at the right time, when you become interested in canning, and when you put in the necessary effort, you can enjoy this abundance all year long. It’s an eco-friendly way of eating that takes advantage of what grows here when it’s at its best.”
For Crystal, making sweets treats in jars is a creative outlet, an eco-friendlier approach to eating, and first and foremost, a way of carrying on a tradition. “The greatest compliment people ever give me is when they say that my products remind them of what their mother or grandmother used to make. It’s like a living memory and that really touches me.”

So, get ready to grab your spoons thanks to Bals Provisions!