Friday, January 27, 2012

In a Jam.....from Maine to California!

IN A JAM.....FROM MAINE TO CALIFORNIA -- At Studio of Style, we believe that jam is among that handful of comfort foods (think chicken soup, mashed potatoes, apple pie) that has the ability to change one's molecular structure. You might think we've flipped our lid -- and you'd be right!  Because we're not talking about just any jam (and you'd never catch us in that aisle in the supermarket, kids!) -- but jam that is actually made with a kind of love that transcends pure commerciality (sounds corny -- but hang in there, okay?).  And just for you (our stylish reader) we've endured one taste test after another of this luscious preserve in search of something (not too) sweet but distinctively delicious worthy of serving your friends and loved ones -- in fact you'll be showing off the jars!  Talk about bi-coastal, let's start with the one we found from Maine.  Wild Blueberry Jam from the Bar Harbor Jam Company (that's pronounced bah-hah-bah!) uses only the (truly wild) native blueberry that grows on a two-year cycle (who knew that Maine grows 90% of the nation's wild blueberry crop?) on vast rolling plains that were formerly glacial barrens.  Every August, local families as well as Micmac Indians from next-door New Brunswick hand-rake the crops.  In 1989, wild blueberry jam was being made at the Cottage Street Bakery during the winter months and eventually out of this the Bar Harbor Jam Company was born -- going from 10,000 jars to 90,000 over the years.  Using low or no sugar, these jams are distinctive because of the tiny blueberry -- unlike the large, often watery, berries produced commercially. Beyond putting this jam on bread, clever recipes can be found on the company's website -- such as blueberry and horseradish cream cheese dip (!) and a blueberry breakfast burrito (!!).  Leaping across country to California, you'll find the kitchen of Sqirl in Los Angeles where Jessica Koslow creates jams, jellies and marmalades in small batches in copper pans handspun by copper artist David Burns.  The philosophy of Sqirl is using produce only from family-owned, sustainable organic farms located within a 350-mile radius of L.A. -- and she is proud to name names (our jar gives the names of the three farms sourced for this particular batch).  Some of the batches take up to three days to create, as Koslow uses no commercial pectin, instead allowing the naturally-occurring pectin to thicken the jams.  And the results are fabu-licious!  Raspberry and lavender!  Blackberry and meyer lemon!  Santa Rosa plums and flowering thyme!  Quince and rose water syrup!  Who knew and who thought that jam could be such an fruit and herbal experience from coast to coast?  Well now you know!  Start searching your particular area for handcrafted jams and treats, okay?  And don't forget to spread the love -- and lay it on thick!!!
Photo by Greg Firlotte / special thanks to Steve, Kelly and Jared
Styled on a Wolfgang Puck cutting board / potato bread from Trader Joe's