Seeking jam heaven
Please tell me about the most incredible (or even just *really* good) fruit jam, jelly, preserve, spread and curd you know of, especially if it's obtainable in the US. (While it's always charming to hear about grandma's wonderful jellies, it's frustrating to know they cannot be had.) Mention unusual fruits and methods, be lyrical and evocative, tell me how you use these darlings and what crazy things they have made you do so's you could get their hands on them.
Hell, I'll take recipes, too.
Anyone tried the outrageously expensive Bar-le-Duc, at $35 per 3 oz., available from Dean & Deluca?
I will start by confessing a passion for wild huckleberry preserves and topping from the Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse, Montana (that name alone should make you want to try it). 'Tis good stuff - see link below.
My wifes inlaws have a very productive fig tree (they live in Fresno, CA) and so in season we have taken to canning fig jam. We just use the recipe that comes with the gelatin but this variety of fig has light pink flesh and so the jam has a sparkling pink appearance (at least for the first six months or so) It also tastes great. We also canned blackberry jelly from blackberries we picked off of their neighbors vine. Home canned jams are much more flavorfull. You can be selective about what fruit gets used and economy doesn't force the use of thickeners and sweeteners that conflict with the flavor. As it turns out canning jam is not all that difficult.
re: scott duncan
Cloudberry jam. I know Ikea sells it though it doesn't taste quite as good as when you get it in/from sweden.
I can't remember the exact deal but they are these berries that are only harvested several weeks of the year, way up in the mountains by hand. It's worth an effort to see if it's easily obtainable somehow or try the lesser ikea and see if that suits you.
You might try Agrimontana (Italian), probably available all over Manhattan. Organic, only fruit and sugar. The Mirtilli is excellent.
Also, the jams available from Peck in Milan (www.peck.it) are amazing. They have on-line ordering which, in my experience, is very reliable for delivery to the US.
Our three favorite jam vendors at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market all sell their jams via the web or mail order. Here are the links:
June Taylor Organic Preserve Maker
These are incredible! June Taylor makes wonderful marmalades (with unusual flavors such as Blood Orange, Clementine,
Kumquat & Ginger, and Meyer Lemon & Lime) and conserves (including 5 different varietal plum choices and our favorite, Fig & Plum, plus other stone fruit, berry and rhubarb choices.) Our real favorites, however, are her fruit butters and fruit cheeses (see the site for a description of fruit cheese) made from quince, Santa Rosa plum, blueberries and pears.
Next, Frog Hollow Farm
These folks farm fabulous fresh stone fruit. They also have a wonderful line of jams, chutneys, and marmalades. Our favorites are the quince, Meyer Lemon and nectarine marmalades and the new blackberry jelly.
Finally, Tierra Vegetables
Tierra, one of the country's best producers of chipotle chiles (they don't just smoke jalapenos, they offer seven different smoked chiles including Habanero, Jalapeño, Mirasol, Santa Fe, Serrano, Tam Jalapeño, and Wax Hungarian) also sells a line of really good chile jams -- there are eight different kinds. We like the Hot Smoky, the C. chinense, and the Southwestern best, but they are all excellent.
There are so very many jams and conserves I have loved...there was, a long time ago, a banana jam made by a small group of people in Northern California that I would buy by the case. It was smooth, opaque, pinkish-colored and redolent of fresh nutmeg. I could happily eat it straight, but it usually was spread onto seven-grain toast, sometimes with a bit of peanut butter. Alas, it no longer exists, and in the few banana preserves that I have found since, it remains unmatched. An attempt to replicate this treat is on my long to-do list.
My current passion, besides thick-cut tawny marmalade, is a vanilla jelly from Mariage Freres. I go to their shop when I visit Paris to stock up on my fave teas, and have fallen in love with this languid amber nectar which is a fine accompaniment to their Bourbon Vanilla tea and their The Rouge from South Africa. What I love about it is its incredible subtlety. It is perfect on a warm croissant or, if you can find it, really good stout white bread toast. I've begun using it on the early spring strawberries - it adds the perfect proportions of sweetness and vanilla. Not overly vanilla-y like drugstore perfume, but deep, almost reminiscent of vanilla pipe tobacco. I have yet to find it sold in the U.S, but if anybody knows... Anyway, at long last, the MF website is up - well, at least the French version is. If you can not read French, after you get to the main page and click on 'Francais,' click on the left bar 'le comptoir de the'; then go to 'epicerie fine,' and at the top of the box of images click 'le voir tous.' Scroll down the list to 'Gelee extra de the Bourbon.' It's about 5.50 Euros. I have yet to order via internet from them, but at least now you can get this lovely elixir from the soure.
If the vanilla jelly matches your prose, I am sure I will not be disappointed. "A languid amber nectar" is just the way I imagine Proust would have described it.
I shall acquire it.
I love "tawny" thick-cut marmalade too. And Mariage Freres' teas as well.
Re. "to-do" lists - sometime soon I'll have to try to make homemade passion fruit curd, something I have tasted only as part of a dessert, never seen it sold by the jar; Sweet Melissa in Brooklyn sells teeny buttery tartlets filled with this curd, topped with a single raspberry - it's the best thing in the entire store, and they have lots of different good things. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood (Carroll Gardens, on Court Street near Douglass St...)
June Taylor's jams and marmalades are marvellous---I adore jam (and make it at home) and hers are one of the few that aren't too sweet and actually really taste like fruit. She uses organic fruit in season and makes it in very small batches. She's a Brit, so her marmalades are particularly wonderful--Seville orange, meyer lemon, clementine, thick-cut, etc. She's based in Oakland, CA--you can prob. find her on the web with a google search. I also love Sarabeth's "Apricadabra" apricot-and-raisin jam.