Friday, June 9Welcome

Local business faltered after a long, hot summer reduced berry yields and forced ice cream parlors to open.

Dimitri Eleftheriou, co-owner of Heidi’s Jam Factory, poses with a cone of orange cream ice cream with honeycomb, caramel and mini raspberry meringues at Heidi’s new ice cream shop. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A plot of land in Corrales is neatly lined with green thorns.

Depending on the time of year, the bushes may be dotted with white flowers or thimble-sized red and purple fruits.

This raspberry and blackberry farm is owned by Heidi Eleftheriou, creator of the popular raspberry jam brand Heidi’s.

Each year, Heidi’s Raspberry Farm opens to the public, allowing New Mexicans to pick their own fruit each harvest season. This year, however, the hot and dry weather resulted in a lower than usual harvest, forcing Eleftheriou and her family to cancel his U-Pick program. But Eleftherius adapted to the changes. They channeled resources that would have been used for U-Pick into a new ice cream shop that opened in Albuquerque on Saturday.

Since Eleftheriou began selling raspberry jam in 2001, her business has grown to include farmers markets and grocery stores statewide and nationally. Today, Heidi’s products are sold in her 13 states. Each week, thousands of jars of jam made from farm-grown raspberries are prepared at Heidi’s Jam Factory.

This is the second time the U-Pick program failed to run. It wasn’t related to the harvest at first, but because of the rapid growth of the business in the early days.

Heidi Eleftheriou, owner of Heidi’s Jam Factory, and his son Dimitri Eleftheriou pose together at Albuquerque’s new ice cream shop. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

“This is pretty new for us,” said Dimitri Eleftherio, son of Heidi Eleftherio. “Every year the blackberries bore fruit and the raspberries bore fruit. The yields are about the same.”

The raspberry season lasts from July until the first frost. The blackberry season is slightly shorter, lasting until July.

Albuquerque hit a record heat on July 19, breaking the 2019 record of 100 degrees to reach 102 degrees. Later that month, his five-mile stretch of the Rio Grande closest to Albuquerque dried up.

“There are not many days of irrigation because the amount of water coming from Acequia is decreasing,” said Dimitri Eleftheriou. “But the most important thing is the heat.”

Blackberry blossoms burned off the brambles during the high heat and windstorms worse than usual, said Eleftheriou.

“Every time a good flower bloomed, it only lasted a few days, and then they burned out,” says Eleftheriou. “Basically, we had no blackberries this year and less than half of the raspberries we had last year.”

He said the family plans to plant more drought-tolerant berries next year as a precaution. We are sourcing fruit from the following locations and may increase if high heat persists in the coming summer.

Dimitri Eleftheriou says seeing the farm first hand allows customers to connect with the business and products on a different level.

“We lose touch with consumers,” says Eleftheriou. “Sad. That’s the first, and the second, of course, is financial.”

But U-Pick’s cancellation has presented some opportunities. For the past few years, Mr. and Mrs. Eleftherius have been thinking of opening an ice cream shop. Because “nothing goes better with jam than ice cream.”

Ava Delcielo, head of sales at Heidi’s Jam Factory, stocks the shelves of a new ice cream shop in Albuquerque. She is located inside her Heidi’s Jam Factory at 3427 Vassar NE. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

“We wanted to open sooner, but due to COVID-19, we have put all our efforts into U-Pick, Farm and Jam,” said Dimitri Eleftheriou.

But now we have the time and resources to focus on developing flavors and designing new spaces. The shop opens on Saturdays for Heidi’s Holiday Market, which runs from 10am to 4pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays through the winter until the grand opening in the spring.

Featuring flavors such as Earl Gray Sweet Cream, Yuzu and, of course, Raspberry Swirl, the ice cream shop is located inside Heidi’s Jam Factory at 3427 Vassar NE. Customers can directly see how the jam is made. Eleftheriou said it fills some of the connectivity gaps left by U-Pick.

“It’s a way to showcase our facility so people can actually see us in production,” Eleftheriou said.

One way or another, Heidi will always have a presence in New Mexico, Eleftheriou said.

“We will always keep Heidi products,” says Eleftheriou.

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