Food & Dining
Five Acre Farm makes pie filling that tastes like grandma’s

Paolo Volpati-Kedra (left) and Cedric Smith, the cofounders of Five Acre Farm, at the company’s Lynn factory.

LYNN – A Norman Rockwell aura hovers over the season: visions of grandmothers in aprons pulling pumpkin, cherry, and mincemeat pies out of the oven as the extended family gathers around.

Fast-forward 60 years and we still want that nostalgic moment, but without all the work. Five Acre Farm got here just in time. “I wanted to make a pure food that people would not have to worry about,’’ says Cedric Smith, 49, of Sterling, who grew up on the family-owned Arrigo Farm in Waltham, picking Bartlett pears and Concord grapes on its 5 acres.

The food scientist and former natural foods salesman knew that the ready-to-bake category needed additive-free products. Picking blueberries in the Adirondacks one day, Smith told a friend, “Now we need to go home and make a pie.’’ And then it hit him: “I need to start a pie-filling company.’’

The fillings and toppings his company makes – in blueberry, cherry, apple, strawberry rhubarb, blackberry, and pumpkin – are not just for pies. They are rich, with a smooth texture, and are less sweet than preserves. Crack open a jar of pumpkin pie and the comforting whiff of cinnamon and nutmeg will have you reaching for a spoon. The vibrant and intense blueberry made with Maine’s finest is pie personified. These fillings can turn a bowl of plain yogurt into a parfait. The effect is similar to an a la mode pie, minus the baking, and half the calories. “It can go on ice cream, or with your morning cereal,’’ says Smith, who learned to can and preserve from his mother, who still lives on the farm.

But if you use the products in the traditional way, the idea is to spread the thick fruit into an 8- or 9-inch pie crust, pop it in the oven, and have dessert ready in an hour.

In the year the company has been in business, cherry has become the top seller, but pumpkin rules the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. “It’s very thick, it’s a pumpkin smashed into a puree. It’s the real deal, not watered down,’’ says Smith.

He recommends using pumpkin pie as a base for smoothies, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin soup, but his business partner, Paolo Volpati-Kedra, has an even better idea – pumpkin martinis. Volpati-Kedra, whose Lynn-based Sauces n’ Love pesto, spreads, and dips have been on the O List (“O’’ as in Oprah), saw potential right away. “There is bad competition and good competition. What we have out there is bad,’’ says Volpati-Kedra.

Most store-bought pies abound with additives, ditto canned pie fillings, say the two men. Five Acre Farm uses glass jars instead of cans, lemon juice and a pinch or two of sugar instead of dyes.

In the Lynn plant, the wonderful smells could have come from grandma’s kitchen. Cherries and apples simmer in giant kettles and are funneled into jars. On the day we visit, the production is halted because a jar shipment from New Jersey is delayed. Smith could solve this problem by buying jars from China, but he is committed to American-made. “I’m willing to pay more to get them from New Jersey, than have it shipped from halfway around the world. Because if we don’t support what we have here, we won’t have anything here,’’ he says.

That’s another part of what he learned at his mother’s side. He pays homage to 81-year-old Catherine Smith in the company’s logo: a grainy photo of her at age 4, riding a pony.

“She was the little girl who grew up on that farm and she will live there for the rest of her life,’’ says her son. “When I grew up everything was homemade.’’

Five Acre Farm fillings cost $7.99 to $8.99 for a 25 ounce jar; toppings are $4.99 for 11.5 ounces. Available at Ferns Country Store, 8 Lowell St., Carlisle, 978-369-0200; A. Russo and Sons, 560 Pleasant St., Watertown, 617-923-1500; Bolton Orchards and Country Store, 125 Still River Road, Bolton, 978-779-2733; Donelan’s Supermarket, 248 Great Road, Acton, 978-635-9893.

by Kathleen Pierce
Boston Globe