Hello and happy holidays! Hanukkah is here, Christmas is almost 2 weeks away, its about to be 2016!
Don’t Panic – JAM ON!
As another fall turns into winter, the summer’s bounty patiently awaits you, preserved under glass for the season to come. Open a jar and let the sunshine out!
As always, I use all local fruit, with lower sugar and no pectin added (ever!), and this year switched over from sugar to organic evaporated cane juice (details below). I had to increase the price, to make up for the difference in cost: for single jars the price is $9, but with the case discount (when you buy 12) they’re only $7.50 apiece.
As a quick aside, I got married this fall to Rachel Williamson, an amazing woman, a farmer, a craftswoman, who works much harder than I do. She grows (and dries & blends) her own herbal teas and spices, and she also makes baskets from tulip poplar bark with grapevine handles. For more information on her fabulous products, check out her website: www.fairweatherfarmers.com
Here are the available jam flavors (links to buy are below):
Apricot: Bright and tangy. Classic and unbeatable. Pure sunshine.
Strawberry Apricot: Sweet and tangy, like strawberry rhubarb but with a little more bite from the apricot.
Sour Cherry & Apricot: Tangy & fabulous. Starts with the apricot and finishes with the cherry.
Strawberry Rhubarb: The taste of springtime. Sweet and light, like fresh strawberries.
Strawberry & Lavender: Lavender brings out the floral side of the strawberries, & helps restrain their sweetness.
Red Raspberry & Rhubarb: Red raspberries have so much flavor that they take over, the rhubarb fills in between and spreads out the seeds.
Black Raspberry & Rhubarb: Similar texturally to the Red version, but with a unique, sweeter flavor.
Blackberry & Rhubarb: Tangy & sweet, with a tannic finish from the blackberries.
Sweet Cherry & Rhubarb: Rhubarb lightens the deep cherry sweetness and helps thicken the texture.
Damson Plum: A supremely balanced tannic tanginess, with minimal sweetness. The quintessential old-fashioned jamming plum.
Plum & Lime: The other plums (Shiro, Santa Rosa, Stark, Red Heart, etc) get a little sweeter than the damson, but lime zest brings the sourness back in line.
Blueberry & Lemon: Lemon zest restores the tanginess of fresh blueberries, and exceeds it.
Pear & Ginger: Pears provide the sweet background, and the warm, candied flavor of Ginger is the star.
Pear & Red Raspberry: Not as sour as the rhubarb version, the pear spreads out the seeds and the raspberry takes over.
Pear Blackberry & Lemon: Pear fades into the background, as the lemon zest restores some tang to the tannic blackberries.
I’ve updated my square storefront; using the links below you can shop online with your credit card. Jam usually costs $9 for each 8 oz. jar at the farmers market, unless you buy a case of 12 and save $1.50/jar. The square offerings reflect this: there is a mixed case of 12 jars (for only $7.50/jar), a partial case of 9 jars (at partial discount $8/jar, an internet-only deal), and 1 individual lonely jar (at the normal price of $9/jar). And if you buy 2 cases, the shipping on the second one is free.
Mixed case (12 jars)
Partial case (9 jars)
Here’s the weather report from Central Virginia: It was a mild, wet spring, with a weather switcheroo mid season: late May to early July was supremely hot, great for the rhubarb, strawberries, sweet & sour cherries, red & black raspberries, apricots (best year ever!), and damson plums. That means it was a bumper year for me, for almost all of the fruits (definitely all of my favorites). During late July and August, though, when the peaches and blackberries were waiting for the heat to bulk up, it was mild and even sometimes cool, which meant lower yields. Pears did well; actually the cool summer might have helped pace their ripening, and with the rain and intermittent heat, the insect pests seemed fewer than past years. Last winter was cold enough that the figs died back to the ground, and without the usual heat in the peak of the summer, they ripened fitfully 2 months behind schedule, with minimal results. I’m still hoping for the right fig climate, but it may be quixotic of me.
Here’s where I get on my soapbox for a second: if you want an informed opinion on climate change, ask someone who makes their living off of the weather. Farmers spend most of their time outside, and the steady normal progression through the seasons, without extreme weather events, is essential to their livelihoods. Extreme weather can be devastating- its not as if the farmer can move the plants indoors to avoid hail, flooding, or extreme temperatures. Be kind to your farmers, they’re experiencing the changing climate daily.
Sugar update: I switched from regular white sugar to organic evaporated cane juice, which is granulated and very light brown, because of a host of reasons, many of them to do with undisclosed, off-label sugar sourcing and additives. Regular white sugar is a composed of a market-dependent ratio of cane sugar and beet sugar, dictated by whichever is currently cheaper on the market; much of the beet sugar is genetically modified. It also contains residual bleaching agents, and anti-clumping agents. Evaporated cane juice contains only cane sugar, in slightly coarser crystals, a half-dozen steps before it has been rendered the familiar snowy white substance, granulated to a specific crystal size. And finally, the difference between white sugar and evaporated cane juice, all of those extra chemicals and extra energy in processing, makes a big difference when making fancy pastry, but not in jam. I’m glad to be able to eliminate some unneeded chemicals from my product, and it makes my product stronger. It’s more expensive than normal sugar, but I think that’s just another way of saying that I’m used to cheap sugar (and cheap commodities in general), and I think its worth paying for quality food.
I think that’s all for this year. Thanks for your support!