Do I jam? No. Do I love jam? oh, yeah! So at this time of year I’m usually looking for interesting articles about fruit in jars and new ways to cook with them during the long days of winter. What rose to the top in my search efforts, though, was this little article courtesy of Huffington Post: Taste Test: The Best Store-Bought Strawberry Jam.
The internet being what it is, most things do manage to stick around for, well, quite a while, and this one was no exception. Thanks in large measure to sugar beet and corn growers (and GMO), laboratories, and chemists, grocery store jam ingredients have remained fairly consistent through the years….high fructose corn syrup, fructose, citric acid and glucose syrup. Whaat!??
I’m jumping in here to throw a different history into the internet stream.
To our collective rescue comes artisan jam from a bevy of “local flavor” independent food crafters and they can be found in communities across the country. Using either their own estate grown fruits or sourcing from local farmers, they’re turning out products packed with real berry flavor minus the aforementioned ingredients.
When berry season is a distant memory and the long winter days conjure up spring hopes, here are a few ways you can rekindle that taste of summer to tide you over. These West coast food artisans are turning out amazing jars of jammy goodness.
In honor of the 5th anniversary of our very first video on The Local Dish, Pennington Farms still has a soft spot in my heart and a constant place in my pantry. Their raspberry jam tastes just like the one I learned to make (paraffin lid and all) from my Irish grandmother at her summer house in Michigan. Real. raspberry. flavor. Perhaps you, too, have a few childhood food memories learned at the knee of a favorite elder?
At a recent Artisanal Food Tasting event, Liz Cowan’s Three Little Figs Jams (below) was voted Best of Everything, including her Strawberry Balsamic Pepper, overrun with big chunks of berries and a slightly peppery-tart kick. Crafted with local Hood River berries, organic cane sugar and aged Balsamic vinegar, it’s clearly a must-have any time of year. Known for crafting complex savory and sweet flavors with an international twist, Liz and her team continue to bring thoughtful and taste-ful spreads to market.
Sourcing organic fruit within 150 miles of their Emeryville, California kitchen, Inna Pickle Inna Jam puts just 3 ingredients in each jar of their Strawberry Jam: strawberries, organic cane sugar and fruit pectin. Now, that will get you out of any PB&J pickle. Spread this on the bottom of a fruit tart, slather between cake layers so it drips out the sides, spoon over ice cream, or satisfy the urge right from the jar (yes, shameless!).
For sourcing artisan jams, preserves and other handcrafted food, buy direct from your small local food producers or check out online shops like Mouth, Marx Foods and Goldbelly. You’ll find plenty of choices for the everyday or the par-tay!
Top image by Lisa Ouellette.
Do you have a favorite local jam?