liz-with-jam-spoon

Liz, with her mother’s well-used, jam-stirring spoon.

apricot-jam

Apricot-lavender jam

If you work at Gardener’s Supply, chances are you’ll come to your desk some morning and find a jar of jam waiting for you.

It’s because we are a company of gardeners and people make delicious foods with local produce. As a toast-lover, I am always happy to get the jams.

My favorite from last year was Liz’s apricot-lavender jam, which lasted just over a week in our pantry. It was even better than my mother’s jam, but don’t tell her.

“I love jam,” says Liz Lawrence, who is one of our buyers, searching and developing great products for Gardener’s Supply. “Jam is the essence of the fruit. And in winter, when you can’t get fresh berries, apricots and plums, there is nothing like a spoonful of jam in your summer-hungry mouth.”

It’s difficult to grow apricots this far north, but Liz found hers during a trip to New York’s Hudson Valley. “This part of the northeast has an incredible offering when it comes to fruit. I wish I could remember the farm that sold them to me; each apricot was just perfectly ripe and ready for the pot. So were their plums.”

“When we found these apricots, I knew it was time for jam. We piled the fruit in the back of the car and the first thing I did when we got home from the trip was pull out my jam pot and get started.”

The jam was inspired by a trip to Turkey. “Their preserves were amazing: big slices or whole pieces of fruit suspended in amazing fruity syrup. Very drippy, yet spreadable — with chunks of fruit that had been simmered to create intense flavor,” Liz says.

To me, the remarkable thing about this jam is (was) how the apricot flavor comes through without tasting “cooked”. The lavender is an enhancement, without being perfumey or overpowering. Liz found the recipe in “Salt Sugar Smoke” by Diana Henry.

If you want to try making jam, take Liz’s advice and start small. “Don’t get into the dozens of jars, pounds of sugar and bushels of fruit. Standing over a hot, steamy pot in July and August is, well, hot and steamy. Make it short and ‘sweet'”.

“By making a few jars of this and that throughout the season, you’ll end up with a really super array of preserves and condiments in your pantry. The best dilemma I can think of in February is choosing which jam to eat.”

David Grist

David does not make jam, but his pantry is full of jars — mostly from his jam-making mother.