Do I jam? No. Do I love jam? oh, yeah! So at this time of year I’m usually looking for interesting articles about jams and new ways to cook with them. 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, 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 jam from a bevy of “local flavor” independent foodcrafters and they can be found in communities across the country. Either growing their own or partnering with local farmers, they’re turning out products packed with real berry flavor minus the aforementioned ingredients.

When berry season begins to fade with the sure-to-come shorter days, here are a few ways you can keep that taste of summer around a little longer. 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?

Last spring The Local Dish hosted an Artisanal Food Tasting Party and Liz Cowan’s Three Little Figs Jams (below) were 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 flavors with an international twist, Liz and her team continue to bring thoughtful and taste-ful spreads to market.

3littlefigs

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 satisy the urge right from the jar (yes, shameless!).

Jam Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.54.28 AM

For sourcing artisan jams, preserves and other handcrafted food, check out Mouth, Marx Foods and Goldbelly. Whether you buy from your local food producers or take advantage of one of these online shops, 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?