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Unicoi Preserves Artisan Spotlight

November Artisan Spotlight: Q&A with Unicoi Preserves' Suzy Neal

By far, the best part about crafting Georgia gift boxes is getting to know the tight-knit artisan community behind our treats. That’s why we’re thrilled to feature our talented friends at Unicoi Preserves as this month’s Artisan Spotlight!

Based in Sautee-Nacoochee near Helen, Ga., we recently got to know Unicoi Preserves’ co-founders, Suzy and Clark Neal, at the Farmview Market Fall Flavors Festival where their Apple Cider Pepper Pie took home first prize.


Image courtesy of Unicoi Preserves.


Self-dubbed Spread Specialist and Pot Stirrer, Suzy and Clark are some of the sweetest artisans we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and we’re not just talking about their lip-smacking (and low sugar!) fruit spreads.

Explore Unicoi Preserves’ family beginnings, original holiday recipes, and more in our exclusive interview with the Spread Specialist herself, Suzy Neal. Let’s dive in!


How did Unicoi Preserves get started? Does your family have any influence on your brand?

We joined a CSA (community-supported agriculture) for our fruits and vegetables and began looking at where our foods were coming from. We then started buying more and more things locally and got to know the families who produce the food.

My sister, Betsy, is a home canner and soon encouraged me to start canning. Clark and I both enjoy cooking, so he got involved and we taught ourselves to make jam, jelly and pickles and gave them away to friends and family, as well as sold them for a season at our local farmers market.

No one in our area was using local wine to make jelly, so we started using locally-grown Chambourcin. These grapes are grown one county over and made into wine three miles from our house. We started with two flavors, Vineyard Spread and Apple Cider Pepper Spread, and now have five plus a few more that we are working on!


What makes your gourmet fruit spreads different?



Image courtesy of Unicoi Preserves.


Everything starts at home from ingredients grown in the mountains; there is no pineapple fruit spread or mango because they aren’t local. We’re a “spread,” not a jelly or a jam because we are too low in sugar. The first ingredient in our Salted Caramel Peach and Strawberry Vanilla fruit spreads are the fruit, not sugar. In short, we’re all natural, low sugar, and delicious!

You recently won first prize for your Apple Cider Pepper Pie at Farmview Market’s Flavors of Fall Festival. Can you tell us more about this success and any other important milestones for Unicoi Preserves?


Apple Cider Pepper Pie image courtesy of Unicoi Preserves. 


Our Apple Cider Pepper Spread is so versatile and has won many awards. It’s got the perfect balance of sweet and heat and is really adaptable from breakfast to appetizers to grilling.

It was a Finalist in the 2015 Flavor of Georgia Contest and helped us win first place and “People’s Choice” at the 2015 Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival. We used Apple Cider Pepper Spread to make candied bacon that goes on top of our shrimp and grits, as well as local Habersham Wine in our pan sauce and local Nora Mill Grits.

Clark also won fourth place in a World Food Championships qualifier called The Taste of America Challenge. He smoked Springer Mountain Farms Chicken on the Big Green Egg and made sliders that had our Apple Cider Pepper Spread and Palmetto Pimento Cheese on a local Kings Hawaiian roll.

What are some of your favorite Georgia artisan goods to support?

Our favorite Georgia-grown goods include:

Can you tell us more about your Big Green Egg Cooking Demo coming up in December?

We cook with Big Green Eggs at home and work classes and events at The Big Green Egg Culinary Center in Atlanta. We have taught cast iron cooking and flatbread pizza classes there at the Culinary Center and learned a lot by spending time with the chefs and other “Eggheads” at every event.

The Atlanta Grill Company, formerly Roswell Hardware, has an annual cooking and demo event with samples from different food producers, and we’ll be cooking on the Big Green Eggs using our products. It’s fun and free and you should come by!


What are some of your favorite holiday recipes featuring Unicoi Preserves?

Recipe courtesy of Unicoi Preserves.


Check out the Double Smoked Glazed Ham recipe on our website – people love it! A few of our other favorite holiday recipes include:

We’re also the perfect pairing with cheese and Georgia Crafted’s bamboo cheese boards.



Image courtesy of Unicoi Preserves.


What does giving back to local communities mean to you?

Clark and I love mountain biking, hiking, and spending time in the forest. That’s why we volunteer with Friends of Unicoi State Park and Northeast Georgia SORBA.


Clark is the Trail Project Coordinator for Yonah Preserve Trails, so in addition to being the Pot Stirrer and slinging jelly, he coordinates with the county and the professional trail contractor on the ground, coordinates paperwork, trail work parties, and so much more.

We have a small but mighty group of volunteers that are working to bring a network of 20 miles of natural surface trails to Yonah Preserve Trails. Working under the guidance of International Mountain Biking Association, we were awarded two Recreational Trails Program grants and continue to fundraise to make this dream come true.

We are very proud of the work our volunteer group does, and Yonah Preserve Trails will bring so much to our community in the way of activity and tourism.


Sample Unicoi Preserves fruit spreads and more local goodies in our Georgia Peach Gift Box and Just Add Cheese Gift Box, or grab them by the jar in our online store!