Give the gift of local food flavors for the holidays

Stuck on what to get someone for a great holiday gift? Need a host or hostess gift or something to send to a friend out of state? How about giving a taste of the Mountain State?

The local food industry and small farms seem to be booming, so it is easier than ever to give great local tastes for the holidays or include them in your holiday cooking or baking. I love to support these local businesses all the year through, but supporting them during the holidays is a great way to introduce them to other people.

Many of the local people making food products to sell are also growing some, if not all, of their ingredients or buying them from local farmers, too. Even if they aren’t using local produce, supporting them still helps a local business, which has an even greater impact on the local economy than shopping at a big box store or online.

Want some ideas on what to get or where to shop? Here are some of my ideas and suggestions for what to buy and where to buy them. These ideas will work for gift giving, host/hostess gifts or even your own holiday cooking.

Where to get local foods

There are a few places where it is easy to find a wide selection of locally grown or produced foods.

My go-to place for locally produced foods in the capitol city is The Purple Onion at the Capitol Market.

It carries a wide variety of preserved and dry products from around the state, including jams and jellies, maple syrup, honey, pickles, sauces, coffees, teas, flour, and more. It also has a good collection of non-food Mountain State products such as art glass, utensils and more.

The gift shop at the Culture Center on the statehouse grounds also has a small selection of local foods.

In Huntington, the best option is The Wild Ramp, a great farmers market shop filled with local food products, local art,and even local produce, meat, cheese and dairy all year. It is a great place to source gifts or even ingredients for your holiday feast or parties.

In Beckley, Tamarack is a great place to find local food products. It carries a similar selection to that of The Purple Onion, with the addition of a local wine and beer selection (which you can also get in Charleston at the Wine Shop in Capitol Market).

In addition to these stops, the travel plazas on the turnpike carry local foods, as do several convenience stores and other shops. You just have to look around.

Garden Guru’s hot picks

So here’s a list of some of my favorite local food companies, products and farms you should be on the lookout for when you want to gift.

These are things I really enjoy (and some are made by friends and acquaintances) and think others would, too.

In a Jam — A relatively new company specializing in jams and jellies made from homegrown and locally sourced fruits.

Owner Andrea Duke (a friend) and her company have been featured recently in local press and magazines. Her innovative flavors are a hit.

You should especially look for the varieties that are salted with local J.Q. Dickinson salt. You can find her jams and jellies at The Purple Onion as well as other shops around the state.

Find her on Facebook to order a gift box or a membership to the Jam of the Month club.

Sassy Gal’s Gourmet Treats — Love pecans? Then this is the gift for you.

Owner Ginger Harmon (another friend) uses interesting flavor combination to make deliciously addictive candied pecans.

Her specialty is using locally crafted moonshine from the Appalachian Distillery in Fairplains to add a kick to her product. She also produces delicious dip mixes.

You can find her products at Tamarack and the turnpike travel plazas. Find them on Facebook for more info.

Ordinary Evelyn’s — This is a perennial favorite, mainly because I love talking to the friendly and down-to-earth Evelyn when I see her at fairs and festivals (and because my mother’s middle name is Evelyn).

She often uses homegrown ingredients to craft her jams, jellies, dip mixes and pickled products. Her apple butter and pickled baby beets are certainly crowd pleasers.

You can find her products most places where local foods are sold.

J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works — While not an agricultural product, it is an important food nonetheless. This family business in Malden revived the old family practice, updating it for gourmet cooking salt.

You can get the salt in regular, smoked and ramp flavors, as well as other salt products.

You can buy it on site or at most places that sell local foods.

Hudson Farms — This won’t be an actual product to buy, but a gift certificate for the future.

You can buy your giftee a gift certificate to attend one of the Pinch area farm’s very popular farm-to-table dinners in the growing season.

Or you can also give the gift of a Community Supported Agriculture share for the season, where your friend or loved one can receive a box of homegrown goodness throughout the season.

Find Hudson on Facebook, or visit for more information. — I’ve not tried this, but I’ve seen it online and am intrigued.

This company specializes in putting together gift boxes filled with West Virginia food items and themed gifts. You pick the contents online, then the company sends the box to anywhere you want.

I think it would make a wonderful gift for friends who have moved away and want a taste of home (hint to my friends looking for future gift ideas).

Food products include jams, jellies, dip mixes and even pepperoni rolls. I’m sure your friend would love it.

Alcohol-related gifts — Another booming business in the Mountain State is the making of beers, wines and spirits. These make great gifts for the home bartender on your gift list.

You can find craft beers and wines for any taste, and distilleries are making everything from moonshine to delicious bourbon, vodka and gin

Smooth Ambler in Lewisburg is a sure bet. I also love the Coperhead Bloody Mary mix from Appalachian Mountain Specialty Foods. It is delicious, and you can find recipes online to use it in cooking, too.

You can find it just about everywhere in the state that sells local foods. They even do a special label edition for the Smooth Ambler distillery.

So, whether you’re shopping for a gift or shopping for yourself, you can find lots of great local flavors for the holidays. You’ll not only be sharing a little bit of the great stuff West Virginia has to offer, but you’ll also be helping the local economy.

So get out there and spread some holiday cheer.

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