Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Something Country bringing something different

Former teacher baking delicious treats with breadfruit as key ingredient

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2021 | 12:20 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer
Preparing the dough is an important part of the process for Johnson, whether she’s baking cookies or any other of her breadfruit treats.
Preparing the dough is an important part of the process for Johnson, whether she’s baking cookies or any other of her breadfruit treats.
Karlene Johnson puts a batch of her breadfruit cookies into the oven.
Karlene Johnson puts a batch of her breadfruit cookies into the oven.
Johnson, the owner of Something Country, shows off her breadfruit cookies and vegan treats.
Johnson, the owner of Something Country, shows off her breadfruit cookies and vegan treats.
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Nestled in the rural community of Kitson Town, St Catherine, Something Country’s products have a unique base ingredient: breadfruit.

The bakery is owned and operated by Karlene Johnson, a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in literatures in English, who explored the use of the breadfruit while attending The University of the West Indies and teaching at the Tacius Golding High School in Brown’s Hall, St Catherine.

“I started to use the breadfruit while I was doing my degree at The University of the West Indies. I was on three-year study leave, one without pay. I was introduced to the baking of breadfruit pizel by a lecturer. I am thankful as while I baked, [with] the returns [I] was able to offset some expenses,” Johnson told Food.

She continued to explore the uses of breadfruit after she finished her studies and saw her product list expand.

“After completing my degree at The University of the West Indies and [returning] to the classroom, I started to explore the usage of breadfruit, and we started by making flour. After much trials [with] the porridge and cookies, the cookie recipe was perfected, and the school canteen benefited,’’ she said.

Having gone to several expos and food shows, Johnson decided to establish a business to take her goods further. Through some brainstorming, she found a name that considered the items she sold and her main ingredient.

“I looked into the products, possibilities and where the main ingredient is from, and the name ‘Something Country’ came to mind, and it was registered in 2018,” Johnson said.

AIM TO PLEASE

The businesswoman said she started with breadfruit pizel, her take on a Mexican cake, breadfruit oatmeal cookies and banana bread, and later moved into vegan treats.

“I noticed that many vegans made inquiries but would not be [into] the products with the eggs. So, seeing that as a new revenue stream and we aim to please, [eggless treats] were added. We continue to strengthen the process by meeting the demands of our growing clientèle,” Johnson said.

She aims to expand the product line to include other products from the food introduced to the island in 1793 by Captain William Bligh, including breadfruit punch and breadfruit porridge mix. At a time when healthy eating is on the lips of many, she is also eager to show that gluten-free items can be tasty, yet cost-effective.

Having decided to establish her business, the 38-year-old teacher also made another big decision to retire from the classroom and delve full-time into her bakery.

“I have decided to retire from the classroom and do this (baking) on a full-time basis. I believe in wholesome food, and research and prayer selected the breadfruit as the main ingredient,” Johnson said.

As to her process, Johnson begins with selecting and purchasing breadfruits from her suppliers. It is then dried and converted into a powdered form.

“We use eggs and oats as a binding agent in the cookies. The eggs are not used in the vegan treat; we use a substitute, and we have even used cassava to make the pizel,” shared Johnson.

Johnson told Food that she aims to help feed persons with gluten-free products that are healthy and cost-effective. “We are simply utilising natural resources to feed people at affordable prices,” she said.

She has since invested in a motor vehicle to deliver her products as far as the need extends. “We intend to supply supermarkets, shops, pharmacies and also customers that walk in, as we want to help with the employment of individuals,” she said.

lifestyle@gleanerjm.com