“My Grandmother, Constance Barker, was adept at preserving the fruit and vegetables she grew in her large garden. During the wartime years she taught my father the art of home preserving and 49 years on, we’re still preserving on a corner of our original family farm.”Michael Barker
Pleasant Valley, Geraldine
Barker’s of New Zealand is nestled at the foot of the Southern Alps, Geraldine, South Canterbury, New Zealand.After 49 years, Barker’s is still on a corner of the original family farm, 8km from the South Canterbury town of Geraldine. The farm sits in the lea of the Four Peaks mountain range, beside the Te Moana River and surrounded by rolling pastures. The farm is now a thriving business, making world class jams, chutneys, syrups and condiments. Barker’s supports the local community employing around 170 local people, and always buys local produce whenever possible.
Fruit WinemakingBarker’s blackcurrant fruit cordial is a top seller today, but it was wine that the Barker family started making years ago. In 1969 Anthony Barker began picking the wild elderberries on his farm to create traditional country wines. Gooseberry, strawberry, blackcurrant, apricot and raspberry wines, aperitifs and liqueurs followed.
Tinkering in the ShedThe Barker family farm has seen many inventions over the years. Anthony Barker crafted his pure elderberry wine using an extraordinary range of simple home appliances – an old washing machine which was converted for drying corks, a vacuum cleaner to provide the turbo boost for his diesel fired coppers – true Kiwi DIY!
While the Barker kids loved the home made swimming pool, the most lucrative and acclaimed invention was the Kent-Barker fireplace. Manufactured and marketed by Kent Heating it was the world’s first efficient wood-burning heater. The unique patented features, including a downward air wash to keep the glass door clean, were adopted by most manufacturers worldwide.
The desire to be different and to explore new and better methods resulted in the use of a vacuum cooker, to make Barker’s jams and pickles.
While most preservers boil the fruit at high temperature, losing a lot of flavour in the steam, the Barker’s vacuum cooker gently boils the fruit, keeping the structure and subtle flavours – a unique and loved character of Barker’s jam.
The late Anthony Barker, whose values and words continue to inspire the Barker’s team.
“Innovation comes naturally when you’re youthful, vigorous and having fun.”
– Anthony Barker
Squeezed & Pressed JuiceThe summer of 1981 saw an endless supply of blackcurrants, father Anthony and son Michael decided it was time to put them to use, and set out to make their first non-alcoholic drink. Barker’s Blackcurrant, a pure and natural squeezed and pressed juice was a hit with adults and children nationwide.
“It’s the quality and superior flavour that comes from squeezing over 750 antioxidant rich, Canterbury blackcurrants, which has helped Barker’s become a family favourite and number one seller.”
– Michael Barker
Preserving: From Hobby to SupermarketThe hobby of preserving has been passed through generations of Barkers. Constance Barker is fondly remembered as “Mrs Put it in the copper Barker”. The homestead, which boasted a thriving vegie garden and orchard, provided the source of Constance’s creations.
In 1991 Anthony Barker launched his signature preserve range, sold in specialty food stores and delicatessens. Michael extended Barkers into bakery fruit fillings in the late 1980s, and then shifted attention to developing Barker’s retail products.
New Zealanders soon caught on to the quality of Barker’s preserves, and they’re now found on the shelves of major supermarkets and boutique stockists in New Zealand and further afield. Although time has passed since Constance’s coppers, Barker’s continues to craft unique flavour combinations using local fruit whenever possible.