For the past year I have been writing a book on preserving. The book is called Jam Session, a fruit preserving handbook and it will be published in the spring of 2018 by Ten Speed Press under the Lorena Jones imprint. I have been putting up preserves since the late sixties. What began as a fun hobby has turned into a full-fledged obsession. Over the years I have refined my technique and broadened my palate. I cannot walk through the farmers’ market and see fruit without thinking of what I can prepare with it. Farmers who know me recognize that contemplative look in my eyes as I taste their fruit samples and know that I am cooking in my mind.
My preserves are not only sweet jams to spread on toast or be spooned into yogurt. Many are savory condiments to serve with cheese, salumi or to accompany roast chicken, turkey, pork and lamb. Some are traditional Mediterranean preserves and some are more my modern interpretations. Not only does my family enjoy these treats but I have friends who raid my jam cellar every few months for the latest creations. To get refills they return the empty jars.
For Jam Session I have had the great pleasure of working with the very talented photographer Ed Anderson. His closeups of fruit and my preserves make you want to lick the page. Last week we had our last photo session, making plum jam and damson plum “butter.” Earlier this month we photographed all the stages of making black raspberry jam. Black raspberries are not a local crop so I cannot find them at our famers’ market. They are cultivated in Oregon and Washington and on the East coast. My friend Cliff who works at our local produce company special ordered them for me. I had not been able to make black raspberry jam for over five years, so I really appreciated his efforts on my behalf. I froze some extra berry puree so I could make black raspberry ice cream for my family as it is one of their favorites.
We are entering fig season full force. I am excited because now I get to make spiced fig jam, fig preserve with Meyer lemon and fig chutney. CUESA, (Center for Urban Education on Sustainable Agriculture), the organization that runs our farmers’ market at the Ferry Building has an annual fundraiser called Sunday Suppers. This year on October 15 I am working with chef Staffan Terje of Perbacco restaurant. To accompany his delicious roast quail I have prepared fig jam with porchetta flavors (pepper, lemon, bay, cloves etc.) And maybe a spicy plum mostarda too. Preserves give pleasure!