The art of making preserves is an ancient one, with recipes for jams appearing in the first known cookbook. Traditionally, jars were sealed with animal hides or wax, and the fruit was not only overcooked but also cloaked in sugar to prevent spoiling. Luckily for us, the passage of time has brought new technology (and mason jars at the corner store), allowing virtually anyone to craft his or her own preserves. This plethora of new producers is yielding more artisanal products for sale and, most excitingly, more room for experimentation.
Contemporary flavors are perfect for spicing up a cheese plate, explains Jessica Quon, a co-founder of Brooklyn’s artisanal food company The Jam Stand.
“We want to inspire our jam fans to do more than just put jam on toast,” Quon says. “We think eaters are becoming more adventurous and curious. There is nothing wrong with classic, and we use basic jam techniques as the foundation for all of our jams, but why not have fun with it?”
For a spicy, sweet, creamy treat, try The Jam Stand’s Razzy Gabby & a Side of Jalapeño Jam with Consider Bardwell Farm’s Pawlet, a spin on an Italian toma made with raw Jersey cow’s milk. If you’re craving a more savory combo, The Gracious Gourmet’s Smoky Sherry Onion Spread is a knockout with any smoked cheese, particularly Carr Valley Cheese’s mixed-milk Airco. If you are the type who loves a transforma- tive pairing (and who doesn’t?), nibble Westfield Farm’s Hubbardston Blue slathered with The Preservatory at Vista D’oro’s Craft Beer Jam. The robust, slightly syrupy jam elevates the goat’s milk cheese to a whole new level, emphasizing its sweet cream flavors.
Speaking of craft beer, it’s often helpful to borrow guidelines from cheese and beer pairings when trying to match cheeses with jams: Marry intensities, pair similar flavors, and of course, never be afraid to experiment.
Craft Beer Jam
- The Preservatory at Vista D’oro, Langley, BC
- Honeyed, herbal flavors with a bite
Smoky Sherry Onion Spread
- The Gracious Gourmet, Bridgewater, CT
- Thin ribbons of onion marinate in dry sherry wine with wisps of smoke
Razzy Gabby & a Side of Jalapeño Jam
- The Jam Stand, Brooklyn, NY
- Sweet raspberry meets spicy jalapeño, with a touch of lime