Oregon Fruit in Jars Give A Culinary Lift to Winter Eating

Jam producers like Pennington Farms, 3 Little Figs and Mt. Hope Farms excel at sweet treats in a jar.

fruit in jars

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 get a flavor of summer 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 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….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 Oregon. Using their own farm grown fruits or sourcing from local farmers, many with sustainable growing practices, they are turning out flavor-packed jars full of 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 Oregon food artisans are turning out amazing jars of jammy goodness.

Pennington Farms

fruit in jars
Image credit: The Local Dish

Deep in the heart of the Applegate Valley, Pennington Farms is a family-owned farming production of more than 30 berry varieties, giving them a a soft spot with Southern Oregonians and a constant place on pantry shelves. Their raspberry jam tastes just like the one I learned to make (paraffin lid and all) from my Irish grandmother at her summer home in Michigan. Real. raspberry. flavor. Perhaps you, too, have a few childhood food memories learned at the knee of a favorite elder?

Known in the region for their hospitality, community, generosity and connection, the Pennington clan of owners Sam and Cathy along with their next generation that includes Jackie, Tatum, Sloane, Sam and Max, have established their 90-acre farm and bakery widely known for jams, syrups, spreads, and baked goods that conjure old-time memories of turnovers and potpies. The farm’s renovated rustic barn is home to the bustling bakery and small batch production that is now a frequent destination for visitors and locals traveling along the main road through the valley.

Three Little Figs

fruit in jars
Liz Cowan, owner, 3 Little Figs. Image credit: 3 Little Figs

At a recent Artisanal Food Tasting event, Liz Cowan’s Three Little Figs jams 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.

Mt. Hope Farms

jars of mt. hope farms fruit spreads

A half-century farm located in Molalla, Oregon is the site for some of the highest quality fruit grown in the United States. Mt. Hope Farms has been the recipient of successive Good Food awards for Best Jams at the annual San Francisco-based Good Food Awards from 2018 through 2022. Owners Mike and Laura Ellis, and their sons, Samuel and Mason are the heart and soul of their farm to table business that began in 2008. They specialize in unique berry and fruit crops and artisan preserved foods that are made in small batches

Their commitment to sustainability for future generations is seen in their organic farming methods using integrated pest management without herbicides and pesticides. The resulting soil health brings forth abundant and numerous berry varieties, such as the Haskap berry, found in their Blackberry Aronia Lavender Fruit Spread and Aronia berries, made into the Limited Edition Aronia Haskap Fruit Spread, both rich in antioxidants and award-winning.

Their spreads are fruit forward, delicate and low organic sugar. Now, that will get you out of any PB&J pickle. Spread  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 at local farmers markets and grocery stores.  You’ll find plenty of choices for the everyday or the par-tay!

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