Made In Michiana: Southwestern Michigan Fruit Buttery
It's a recipe that is five generations in the making.
“The recipe was handed down from my grandfather, to my dad, to me, to our four daughters and now to our grandchildren,” Founder of the Southwestern Michigan Fruit Buttery Joe Dickman said.
And in 2007, making fruit butter became a way of making a living for Joe Dickman and his wife, Paula.
“It was a long process because we were committed to doing it debt-free. That first jar of apple butter cost $20,000,” Southwestern Michigan Fruit Buttery Sales and Marketing Director Paula Dickman said.
But the cost was worth the risk. Today, Southwestern Michigan Fruit Butters are in stores all over the Midwest.
“We have 54 stores all the way from Detroit to Chicago, to down close to Indianapolis, to clear up in Manastee, Michigan, we have a lot of stores and we're growing every year, we grow a few more stores,” Joe Dickman said.
Last year alone, the Dickmans couldn't keep the 5,000 jars of fruit butter they hand-bottled on their shelves. And they say demand just keeps growing.
“It still surprises me, your phone call surprised me,” Paula Dickman said.
The ABC 57 morning team took a trip to the mom and pop shop that's headquartered in the Dickman's basement, and we got to test the product for ourselves.
Faithful customers tell the Dickmans they will use the five different flavored butters on everything, whether it's spread on a slice of toast, mixed into a salad dressing or used as a marinade for meat.
“People think of it as breakfast food. Put it on your toast and your pancakes and you can do that, but to cook with it, it really is a lot of fun,” Paula Dickman said.
Not only are these fruit butters tasty, they are also healthy.
“We endeavored to have all of our products under 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon. The AMA does set the threshold at ten grams of sugar or under are helpful to diabetics, therefore classified as diabetic friendly. Our product is also certified gluten-free, even our spices are certified gluten-free,” Joe Dickman said.
The best part for the Dickmans? Keeping the idea of a true mom and pop shop alive.
“The 55 stores that we are currently in are all mom and pops. They are all families that are trying to make a living just like we are,” Paula Dickman said.
Every part of the process from the ingredients, to the jars and labels, even product testing, is done right here in Michiana.
Next week we will continue our Made in Michiana series with a behind the scenes look from the Hoosier Tire plant in Plymouth, where they are rolling out some of the best tires in racing every day.