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Bonnie Shershow’s Perfect Cheese Pairings


Decades of working alongside mongers inspires the founder’s favorite bites. 

Cheeseboard with Red Pepper Jelly & Black & Blue Jam | Photo Credit: Erin Beutel/Teatime Creative

Scan the shelves at the grocery store for accompaniments, and you’ll likely gravitate toward the well-known Bonnie’s Jams. But before the fruity preserves became a household name decades ago, a partnership with a neighborhood cheese shop fueled a road for the founder’s entrepreneurship.

When someone tells you they have 20 years of experience working in cheese, you’ll likely assume they’re a cheesemonger or producer. For Bonnie Shershow, the founder of Bonnie’s Jams, her introduction to the world of cheese started at Formaggio Kitchen, a beloved cheese shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“I had the nerve to ask the [owner of Formaggio Kitchen] if I could use his commercial kitchen to make jam, and he agreed,” Bonnie Shershow tells culture.

Travels to Europe filled with delicious fruity bites as a child ignited Shershow’s infatuation with stewing seasonal fruit combos into jams. Back home in southern California, with access to a 20-acre orange grove surrounded by berry bushes in her backyard, it’s only right that she fell deeply in love with preserving seasonal ingredients. 

Jars of Bonnie’s Jams with berries and flowers | Photo Credit: Erin Beutel/Teatime Creative

Once Shershow received the green light in 1999 to set up shop at Formaggio Kitchen, she found wisdom from cheesemongers who provided feedback on improving her fruit preserves. “Cheese became a part of the company’s growth,” says Shershow. In the back of her mind, when she was stewing apricots and oranges, she devised plans on which Manchego or gouda to pair the jam with. 

Today, Bonnie’s Jams can still be found on the shelves at Formaggio Kitchen and countless grocers across the country. With innovative flavors like Bourbon Berry and Cantaloupe Peach with Black Pepper, there’s no shortage of accompaniments for your cheese board. But to give you a headstart, for culture, Shershow shared her go-to pairing right now based on years of experience in the industry. 

1. Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese + Lemon Pear with Lemon Verbena Jam

The fragrant lemon jam complements the bold blue from Point Reyes, offering milky and zesty bites. “This cheese has won so many awards, and for good reason,” says Shershow. To go the extra mile, you can smear some of this wedge on crusty wheat bread along with the citrusy preserve for a creamy, peppery, and tangy grilled cheese

2. Bellwether Farms Whole Milk Basket Ricotta + Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This pillowy ricotta from Bellwether Farms pairs deliciously with the strawberries’ sweetness and the stewed rhubarb’s lip-puckering flavor. This rich buttery cheese transports Shershow to her travels in Naples, Italy, when she would savor fresh basket ricotta, she says. Try the duo as a dessert; it’ll taste like a creamy cheesecake covered in berry preserves. 

3. Cashel Blue + Lemon Pear with Lemon Verbena Jam

While Shershow prefers buying local cheese varieties, when she does reach for wedges made in other parts of the globe, she loves the Cashel Blue from Ireland. The wheel naturally carries a tangy flavor, and rather than contrasting those bites, the jam enthusiast loves to complement it with zesty lemon jam. The combo yields a bright, creamy experience perfect for warm, sunny days.

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Ashia Aubourg

Ashia Aubourg is culture's Assistant Digital Editor. She received her BA in Food Studies and Policy Studies from Syracuse University, where she researched components that make up equitable food systems. She previously held print and digital roles at Food & Wine, Cuisine Noir, America's Test Kitchen, and others, where her writing unearthed underrepresented narratives within food, travel, and culture. Before starting her writing career, she held food policy and social impact roles across various nonprofits and companies. Ashia currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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