Jamming in the City

Photo courtesy Red BreadIn this city of juice detoxes, carb-free diets, and boot camp obsessives, an unlikely culinary trend has emerged -- and it's not another bougie burger phenomenon. Preserved fruits, specifically locally-sourced jams in adorable jars without commercial pectin, are on the latest frontier of the L.A. food scene. Three women-lead artisanal companies are taking advantage of California's fruit abundance and driving this farm-to-jar trend. Their unusual flavors may be the best thing since, well, sliced bread.

In fact, the creator of the newest lines of artisanal jams in the city, Red Bread, also bakes bread to pair with her products. Rose Lawrence's dense wild yeast sourdough loaves make the perfect accompaniment for her smashed peach or strawsilberry jam (strawberry and basil, natch), as well as the home-ground peanut butter she and her business partner and husband, David, create as part of their line of locally sourced products featured on their e-store and at PB & J pop-up counters throughout the city.

But jam is Rose's, well, jam. The recent UCLA law school grad found herself searching for ways to better engage in community building and food rights so she completed her certification in the University of California Master Food Preserver program (in case you're wondering, lemon rinds and apple cores -- and time -- naturally provide the pectin necessary for her jewel-tone jam). The preserver program could barely sustain itself a decade ago, but in the past three years thousands of applicants have attempted to fill the only twenty slots available yearly.

The sheer numbers of aspiring home preservers alone mark a renaissance of jam-making in the Los Angeles area. But Rose's professional compatriots are growing in number, too. Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, a darling of the local jam movement, has gained popularity through her unusual jarred preserves such as Raspberry & Fresh Lavender or Pakistan Mulberries & Thai Magic Basil. Koslow garnered such a following that she now leads classes in jam-making. Two weeks ago she opened a Silver Lake-adjacent café featuring her products, launching her further into culinary celebrity.

For Laura Ann Masura, jam-making came after her climb to stardom. This indie-rock drummer turned jammer (get it?) makes products that aren't quite your garden variety preserved fruits. Laura Ann's Jams varieties include "the Manhattan project," essentially a jarred cocktail (cherries infused with Bulleit rye, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters), and a fiery Raspberry Habanero.

Many of these jams aren't for the faint-hearted -- not that we're complaining. Thanks to the rising farm to jam movement our future looks sweeter than ever.

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About the Author

Sometimes known as the Doctor of Pastrami, Lara Rabinovitch is a writer and historian in Los Angeles.
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