I grew up in Southern California in a house surrounded by acres of citrus trees and an incredible assortment of other fruit trees and berry bushes: pomegranates, persimmons, saucer peaches, macadamia nuts, kumquats and loquats, avocados, tangerines, black mission and kadota figs and more. I helped my mother gather fruit when it was ripe and fragrant for the extraordinarily tasty jam that she would carefully cook to fill jars that would serve us for the year, or until the next batch of perfectly ripe fruit was ready to pick.
When I began traveling, my search and discovery of jams of other countries became a preoccupation. Following the scent of raspberries in a hill-town in Southern France, I found a small group of women stirring fruit in large copper pots and ladling exquisite, deep crimson, steaming “confiture” into lovely little jars with hinged lids; in Shanghai, I had the most delectable shiny bright orange apricot jam made by a transplant from the Netherlands; and in Cuzco, Peru, I enjoyed a fruit jam that is still a mystery today – but lingers in my mind as simply delicious!
I like to get creative and use my jams for more than toast. I make an intensely flavored glaze for chicken, duck and ribs from the Apricot Orange and Peach Ginger jams, a breakfast smoothie from the Strawberry Rhubarb or Raspberry Lime Rickey and a number of other dishes to fit the mood and the day. And I especially like pairing them with cheese. I invite you to do the same – and let me know how they turn out!