Are you wondering where in the Blue Water area you can find Frog Jam--or what, exactly, it is? Answer: it's a delicious fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger jelly, and you can find it (along with its cousin, the Hopping Frog Jam, which also contains spicy jalapenos) at Amish Country Bulk Foods in Fort Gratiot.
Owner Randall Hurd carries a range of unique jams and jellies at his shop, though of course the Frog Jam is one of his most popular flavors. The store itself is rather small, but it houses a variety of high-quality food items, and even a line of long-lasting, inexpensive cutlery, Rada Cutlery, a cult favorite. Hurd's selection is wide but not overwhelming, including those jams, jellies, cheeses, pickles, spices, popcorn, flours, honey, candy, pasties, some fresh produce, and what are almost certainly the most delicious baked goods in the midwest (more about those later).
Hurd launched the Fort Gratiot store in February. He settled on the location because it would be a prime spot for American and Canadian clients, vacationers and residents.
His range of tasty treats has already earned him a loyal local following, including Jen Douglas, who lives nearby in Fort Gratiot. She's new to Michigan and, she says, quickly became a fan of the pasties and baked goods.
"The pasties make a fantastic quick dinner," Douglas says, adding that they're a meal in and of themselves, so there's no need to make any side dishes or vegetables to go along with them. She recommends the spinach feta pasties, and Hurd points out that there are several other varieties, including gluten-free and vegetarian options.
In fact, Hurd says, though he's not a health food store, he does carry several healthy options, including organic, sugar-free, and gluten-free items. He'd also like to set the record straight: the bulk food items come pre-packaged, so there's no way for customers to use their own containers.
"There was an article a couple of months ago that said people could use their own containers, but that's not true," Hurd says. "It's unhygienic, and could be messy, so we just provide everything, and it's all pre-packaged."
Now about those baked goods. Cashier Kris Waite has a lot to say about them, in particular the turnovers. Most important to know, Waite says, is that the turnovers, whoopie pies, cookies, breads and more arrive fresh to the store on Fridays, so if you're craving a sweet treat, it's best to stop by Friday afternoon for the best selection. "You've got to try those turnovers," Waite says, "but they go fast."
Hurd agrees with Waite, then adds that he'd also recommend the fresh tomatoes, strawberries, and asparagus, all locally grown springtime favorites ideal for cookouts. It may sound odd, but Hurd says the butter is another favorite, a must-try, along with the peanut butter cups and his version of corn nuts, which aren't as rock-hard as the mainstream brand, but which have the same salty, savory flavor.
He enjoys being able to share the wide variety of goods with everyone who walks through his door.
Though his selection is vast and there's something unique and enticing everywhere you look in his store, Hurd has even more plans to upgrade his displays so he can carry even more items. Also, while he can't guarantee he'll be able to find it, if a customer has a special request, he'll try to locate the item.
"I'm also happy to order a larger size of an item, if it's available," Hurd says. He offers a smile then one final quick dinner suggestion--a series of mason jars that contain everything you'd need to make a hearty meal--before walking down the next aisle for his photo op.
Amish Country Bulk Foods is located at 4556 24th Ave. in Fort Gratiot. Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/RSHund.