Tiffany Balk wanted a uniquely Grand Haven gift for friends. She lived near a 900-acre blueberry farm and wondered why someone hadn't done for blueberries what Cherry Republic had done for cherries.
The search for that one gift lead Balk to create a few blueberry delicacies of her own that she wholesaled to local specialty stores and online. She started selling them at the Grand Haven Farmers Market
in 2008, and in 2011 she opened Blueberry Haven
(213 Washington Ave., Grand Haven).
Balk buys her blueberries from 40-50 West Michigan growers, plus contracts with area co-packers who make the products based on her recipes. Her products span a variety of tastes, from the delectable Spring Lake "Laker" Jam with pineapple, orange, and lemon, to Blueberry Almond Biscotti. Other delicious treats include Oatmeal Blueberry Cookie Mix, Cinna-Berry Pancake Mix, Blueberry Coffee, and Blueberry Salsa.
"In the back of our store is our sample bar where we have all the jams, chocolates, and sauces so customers can taste them," Balk says. "We ship anywhere. One customer from New Hampshire came in because they got one of our products as a Christmas gift, so they bought more. On the way home, they stayed with friends in Chicago, so when they got back to New Hampshire, they got online and shipped something to their Chicago friends as a thank you."
Balk says that although she offers free recipes in the store and online, customers were constantly requesting a cookbook.
The cookbook doesn't have a name yet or a publication date, but the first draft is finished. Grand Haven-based Splattered Ink Press
will publish the book. Along with traditional pies and muffin recipes, the book will feature some unusual dishes, such as, Grilled Lobster Blueberry Salad, Leg of Lamb with Blueberry Relish, Blueberry Jalapeno Cornbread, and Blueberry Mojitos.
Store hours: Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays open until 8 p.m. ; Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Tiffany Balk, Blueberry Haven
Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor