....Frequently Asked Questions....

--General Category--

Do you ship your food products & whirligigs outside the United States?

We currently ship our canned goods product within the U.S. only. However, we ship our Whirligigs product within the U.S. and to Canada.
For information on Canadian Whirligig shipments, please go to Canada ordering for detailed information.

Can I purchase with a Personal Check instead of ordering via the Internet?

Yes, for domestic (U.S.) orders only. Fill out the Order Form on line and select the "Pay By Personal Check" option (no credit card required). Then "submit" the order (on line) and then mail your check. If you prefer you may print out the order form (on line) and send it with your check.
In either case, your order will ship 2-3 business days after your check is received.
Phone orders are also accepted between 9AM and 5PM EST.

Are the "price tags" removed from gift items that I send?

Yes. There is no pricing information or promotional material included in any shipment to a third party. There is a card included that contains any message that you have specified via the Order Form. If you do not specify a specific message, then a simple "From - To" card is included.
The packing list containing the "transactional" data is mailed directly to you upon order shipment.

What are Condiments?

A condiment is a relish, sauce, or seasoning added to food to impart a particular flavour or to complement food. Usually applied by the diner at the table.
Popular condiments include Mustard, Hot Sauce, Salsa, Chow Chow, Onion Relish, Chutney and Herb Vinegar.

What are Pickles?

Any Preserved vegetable or fruit eaten in conjunction with other foods to complement a dish. They can impart a sweet or pungent flavor, depending on the preservation process.
Foods that are commonly pickled include Cucumber Dills, Onions, Green Tomatos, Okra, Green Beans and Watermelon Rind.

What is the difference between Sauce, Syrup & Toppings?

All three are related in that they are generally "put over the top of food just before serving".
SAUCE is a "liquid food dressing" which usually contains recognizable pieces (not strained) of the main fruit and may include small soft seeds.
Example Dessert & Breakfast Sauces are Strawberry, Red Raspberry & Peach.
SYRUP is a "thick, sweet liquid" normally used as a topping or recipe ingredient. Syrups are different from Sauces because they are pureed, strained and may include only the smallest of unrecognizable (ie.blueberry) seeds.
Example Syrups are Blueberry & Blackberry.
TOPPINGS are "put over the top of food just before serving". They would include the Sauces, Syrups & Condiments ( all are defined above).
Example Toppings are Strawberry Sauce, Blackberry Syrup, Peach Butter, Vidalia Mustard, Hot Sauce, Salsa, Chow Chow & Onion Relish.

--Special Occasion FAVORS Category--

Can I order jelly, jams preserves & condiments as "Favors" for a special event and can I have a "Custom" personalized label?

Yes. We would be happy to use the couple's names and day for a wedding; place and date for a family reunion; company name and contact info for corporate events, etc.
The "personalized" nature of favors do not lend themselves to automatic on-line ordering, as is with our regular products. Dialog is necessary to assure compliance with your needs.
There is a special INFORMATION!  page with details on "Favors Ordering" & "Custom Labels".

--Jelly, Jam, Preserves, Sauce, Syrup & Condiments Category--

What makes Serenity Gardens products different?

Commercial products (grocery stuff) are made from processed ingredients ('canned' pulp, 'bottled' juice, paste, mixes, artificial flavors, etc.) in large vats and kettles; mechanically stirred, automated fill, machine labeled, all hands-off. At Serenity Gardens, we start with fresh local or fresh frozen produce picked at the height of flavor; each piece individually sorted; no underripe, overripe or bruised. Everything is small batch, hand stirred, hand filled. Our flavor is grown and cooked in not powdered and poured in.
We use less sugar. Yes, this is healthier but there's another reason. Commercial products have lots of sugar because its cheaper than fruit and it covers up less than great tasting ingredients. Shame on them!
We even hand label all our products. This is another opportunity to make sure everything's as it should be.

Are your products homemade?

Even though we can like our grandparents did, LEGALLY we can't label it homemade. But it is 'homemade' in a modern canning facility. (see question above)
Serenity Gardens is licensed and registered in the State of Georgia. The food processing facility is rigorously inspected (quarterly) by the Georgia Department of Agriculture to assure compliance with it's standards.

Where does Serenity Gardens get its produce?

As the name implies, we have gardens right here where we make our products and we grow many of our ingredients- talk about knowing it personally! We are organic gardeners, so no extra chemicals enter the system there. We belong to a tailgate growers market and buy from those local growers plus pick-your-own orchards and other farmers markets.
Some items aren't grown in Georgia and those we buy individually quick frozen. ("Fresh" isn't fresh anymore when it's been shipped across the country.)

What are 'Crushed' and 'Whole' Fruit Spreads?

The FDA says to be called 'Jam' or 'Preserves', the product must be, at least, 65% sugar. No wonder you can see through the commercial products! Our products are more fruit. So our 'jam' is Crushed Fruit Spread and our 'preserves' are Whole Fruit Spread.

What's the difference in jelly, jam, preserves and fruit butters?

By traditional definitions (forget the government):
jelly- sweetened fruit juice, firmly jelled
jam- sweetened crushed fruit, firmly jelled
preserves- bite size pieces of fruit in a soft jelly
fruit butter- sweetened fruit puree cooked down to a spreading consistency; usually less sweet than jam or preserves

What is pectin?

Pectin is a naturally occurring substance found in most fruit. It is generally tasteless but is what allows fruit juice/puree to jell. Also, the latest research says that pectin is good for you.

Why does Serenity Gardens add pectin to many of its food products?

To rely on naturally occurring pectin for jelling would require using some underripe fruit (pectin declines as fruit ripens), LOADS of extra sugar (in fact, more sugar than fruit) and an extended cooking time. Few fruits benefit from this treatment. So we use only ripe fruit and less sugar so the natural taste shines through. Added pectin reduces cooking time which preserves vitamins and flavor. Also, pectin's good for you!

What is monocalcium phosphate?

We use a citrus pectin which requires acidity and calcium to jell. Some fruits have enough, some don't. Then we'll add calcium as mono- calcium phosphate, a naturally occurring calcium refined from rock phosphate.

What is chow chow?

To a lot of us Southerners 'chow chow' is a catch-all term for any vegetable based relish. There all kinds of recipes with all kinds of ingredients. We use an heirloom recipe with cabbage, green tomatoes, peppers and onions; spiced with cinnamon, cloves and other 'secret' spices. It is naturally brined, not chemically 'crisped' and the difference shows in the taste.

How long will these jelly, jams, preserves & condiments keep?

Keep all unopened products in a cool, dark, dry place. We don't use chemical preservatives so LEGALLY we are required to say, use the 'pickled' items (ones with vinegar) within 2 years. Use the 'sweets' (fruit products) within 1 year. After opening, place any unused portion in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks. Discard if mold forms.

Where can I buy Serenity Gardens products?

Currently, our products are available, of course, on the Internet. We accept credit cards and shipping charges are automatically calculated so you know the full cost before you submit your order.
There is an option for gift shipping if the address is different from the billing address. A card / message can be included at no extra charge. Prices and promotional material is "never" included with "gift" orders / shipments.
We always send an order form to the buyer / customer if you wish to mail order future purchases.
If you prefer to pay by check, you may submit the order via the Internet then send the check. Or you may print out the order form and send it along with your check. Phone orders are accepted between 9AM and 5PM EST.
If you're in the metro Atlanta area, we see people at the kitchen by appointment and we participate in large local festivals.
May through October, you can catch us at the "Suwanee Farmers Market":
Town Ctr. Park @ US 23 & Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., every Saturday 8am - noon.

May I have some of your recipes?

We are delighted you like our products that much! However, our recipes are heirloom or otherwise painstakingly developed and rigorously tested; therefore, the recipes are proprietary.
Now recipes in general - ideas for use are included on the label of all vinegars and we send recipe cards with their purchase.

I have some great recipes of my own and I'm thinking of starting a canning business. Any tips?

To be able to sell interstate, we are required to be licensed, inspected, certified, tested, label approved, HACCP conscious, record keepers. We must maintain a commercial kitchen with REGULATED sanitation practices (water testing, storage temperatures, approved waste disposal, insect screens, floor&wall clearances for cleaning... you get the idea). All this also applies to sales within the state of Georgia. Georgia follows all FDA guidelines.
For specifics on requirements in your local jurisdiction, contact the Department of Agriculture, Consumer Protection Division for your state. It is normally listed in the blue pages of the phone book.

--Whirligigs Category--

How do I mount my Whirligig?

Our Whirligigs are designed for mounting in a drilled hole in the top of a wooden post (instructions are included).
You can purchase a wooden post at your local "Home Improvement" store for $3.00-$4.00.
For your convenience, we offer a 2" x 2" x 18" (pre-drilled with attachment screws included) mounting post. This post can be attached to an existing structure (e.g. deck/porch rail, fence, etc.) or a new wood "in ground" post. It is listed separately on the Order Form.

Can I get replacement parts if necessary?

Yes. Because there are "many" different parts that can be replaced, we offer only those parts that get the most wear and/or subject to damage.
There is a "Link" to the "Parts Order Form" at the bottom of the Whirligig description page.
If you dont see what you need, send an e-mail describing the whirligig model involved and the part(s) required.
By return e-mail we will quote the cost including shipping or mailing.
Along with the part(s) we provide you with procedure for replacement and overall re-adjustment of the Whirligig, if necessary.

Does a whirligig require any maintenance by me?

Very little, actually. If there has been a period of strong winds or inclement weather, it's a good idea to inspect for any damage. All bolts / nuts are sealed with "Loctite" compound to keep them from working loose. Oiling is not recommended, as oil can impregnate the wood, cause it to swell and interfere with normal action.

How long can I expect my whirligig to last?

This depends on several factors. We have some over fifteen years old. The worst enemy of whirligigs is high and / or consistent winds. This is obvious because wind causes movement (action) and therefore wear. The painted surfaces won't crack or peel, but the U.V. rays (sun) will cause colors to "fade". A "touch-up" every 4-5 years will keep them brilliant.
If you exercise good judgment and take them down during very high winds, heavy snow / ice, etc. you may expect many years of enjoyment from them.

What are the general construction details of a whirligig?

All of our whirligig figures are made from ¼, ½ or ¾ inch thick red cedar, depending on the model, and are painted in bright colored exterior grade enamel. The figures are 10 to 12 inches high, again, depending on the model.
They are mounted on a pressure treated yellow pine chassis that is either painted or stained, depending on the model. The chassis has a ¼ inch diameter, 5 inch long plated steel spindle for mounting.
Our Whirligigs do not employ the use of brass for the "drive" shafts because the material is very soft and wears out easily.
We fashion all of our "drive" shafts from 9ga. plated steel wire (9/64" diameter). They are bent, flattened, drilled (as required by whirligig model) and then threaded to accommodate 8/32 plated nuts and #6/#8 flat washers.
The drive wires that transfer action from the rotating shaft to movable parts utilizes a softer wire (17, 16 or 14 gauge depending on whirligig model) and is the vulnerable "wear point".
The wire (drive) is readily available and easy to replace. This is a design consideration because you want the wire to fail (break) under stress before any damage to the whirligig occurs.
The propeller has four blades-paddles and is about 15 inches across (tip to tip). The propeller hub is ¾ inch thick pine and the blades(paddles) are 1/8 inch thick Tempered Masonite.
Moving (friction) parts are separated by washers and secured with 6/32 plated and/or stainless steel bolts and nuts. All bolts - nuts are sealed with "Loctite" compound to keep them from working loose.
Overall chassis length, including propeller, is 16 to 19 inches, depending on the model.
Also available is a 2x2x18 inch mounting post that is pre-drilled for the whirligig spindle in one end and is pre-drilled for two mounting screws on the other end (screws are provided). Used for mounting whirligig on deck / porch railings, fences, etc. Post is made from treated southern pine.

What type of wood do you make the whirligigs from?

The chassis are "treated" Southern Yellow Pine. The action "figures" are Western Red Cedar. The propeller blades are "tempered" Masonite.

What kind of paint do you use?

Depending on the model, the component is either painted or stained. All action figures are painted. Stained elements receive one application of an oil based "penetrating" stain plus a sealer. All painted (colored) elements receive one "primer" coat plus, at least, two coats of "outside", high - quality, acrylic latex.

Do you have a catalog?

We do not have a catalog. We believe that the only way to evaluate and appreciate a Whirligig is to see it in action. Our Web Site provides this. A "static" picture only lets you "guess" what the movement is.
The site also describes construction material content and size. If you have any specific questions we will be happy to answer them.