Rhubarb Jam is Here!

The arrival of rhubarb heralds the beginning of Spring; its vibrant red stalks offer the first hints of color after a long winter, and its sassy sour flavor helps energize foggy days.

We’re never patient awaiting the return of rhubarb, as it marks the official beginning of jam season. This year is no different. Our first jam of the year, Rhubarb Jam with Plum Brandy & Ginger emphasizes our favorite aspects of rhubarb: Of course, its supreme tartness, accented with plum brandy, and we couldn’t resist incorporating a few handfuls of candied ginger to add an extra zip. Grated apples meld perfectly with rhubarb for a tart bite and the hottest pink jam we’ve ever made!

In order to fully encapsulate the personality of rhubarb, we cut the stalks into very large pieces; this ensures that the finished jam offers glimpses of fresh rhubarb. We delight in cooking this jam, watching stalks of rhubarb break down and shift from bright red to hot pink as the jam cooks.

We’ve been enjoying this beautiful jam on our morning toast, spread on pound cake, or paired with whole wheat scones. Kate was moved to incorporate them into the jam straws you see above! We can think of no better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than with this truly delightful preserve full of the personality of rhubarb!

3 Classic Jam Pairings

The most frequent questions we receive (other than “What’s the difference between jam and marmalade?“) are from people wondering how one enjoys jam or marmalade other than on toast — or maybe on scones at teatime. While there is surely no better start to the morning than your favorite jam on toast, preserves have myriad applications beyond bread or baked goods!

How to Enjoy Jam in a Healthy Breakfast

Morning oatmeal is a fiber-filled way to begin the day. We’ve come to love our morning oatmeal with a generous helping of our Cranberry Jam with Pluots & Vanilla. Whole cranberries add a delightful tartness to this wholesome breakfast, while pluots help add a bit of necessary sweetness. While this combination is fantastic with steel-cut oats, it’s a fantastic way to take quick-cook oats from so-so to stellar.

Why Jam Has Its Place at Lunchtime

Who says jam needs to have only sweet applications? One of our favorite lunches is a grilled cheese sandwich — with Spiced Bourbon-Tomato Conserve. Tomatoes add a bit of sweetness to complement your favorite cheese (we love a nice sharp cheddar), and the added candied ginger in this conserve brings a bit of surprise. An easy way to take your sandwich to an entirely different level!

How to Make a Quick and Easy Jam Dessert

Rachel in particular really loves this next one: tasty toast with a smear of ricotta and a dollop (or two) of Strawberry-Rose Jam. Add a few twists of black pepper and you have a light, sophisticated snack. YUM.

What unique and non-traditional jam or marmalade pairings have you been enjoying lately?

Jam Club for Mom

We’re still offering our Mother’s Day gift packs, but we know you may want to give your mom something even more special that she can continue enjoy through the year!

Our Jam Club is the perfect gift for your Mom! We’ll send her one jar each of three of our favorite flavors in every shipment; you can gift her 6 months of preserves (3 shipments total) or a whole year of jam and marmalade (6 shipments total)! Note her email address in your gift message upon checkout and we’ll be sure to notify her — by Mother’s Day — of your generous gift!

Our last shipment was one jar each of: Strawberry-Rose Jam, Seven-Citrus Marmalade, and Orange-Kumquat Marmalade with Cardamom. We frequently send flavors in the Jam Club that are not available on our website, so this is the best way to ensure your mother gets the best preserves we have to offer. Read more about our Jam Club options here!

New Shipping Options

Blue Chair Fruit now has even more shipping options for your convenience!

Customers in the Blue Chair Fruit store may now select FedEx Ground upon checkout — this is a bit less expensive than the USPS Priority we’ve been using. If you feel like you can stand a longer wait for your jam (2-8 business days), then this is your best option! Of course, we still use USPS Priority, and have a few FedEx Express options for your last-minute jam needs.

Just a reminder that we generally process orders Monday through Friday. Any Express order received by 3pm will be processed that day. We are unable to process orders on weekends.

Here’s to cheaper jam shipping!

Our Favorite Strawberry Jam

We’re trying to wait patiently for Spring’s arrival, and bring with it one of our favorite fruits: strawberries. The perfect strawberry jam highlights the bright, sweet flavor of these gorgeous berries, and adds excitement to toast, scones, and cakes.

It’s time to be honest: We’ve been holding out on you, just a little bit. Some jars of our favorite early-Spring jam have been hidden away to tide us over until strawberries are in season again. Our much-coveted Strawberry-Rose Jam is available in our online store, but we don’t expect it to stick around for long; these jars are disappearing off our shelves at a rapid pace!

We love the brightness of strawberries, and they’re highlighted in this jam with floral notes of rosewater, kirsch, and vanilla bean. Trust us, it’s heavenly on scones with clotted cream, and it’s made waiting for Spring a bit more bearable!

Dancy Tangerine Preserves

Dancy tangerines are some of the sweetest citrus winter has to offer, and one of our favorites to preserve!

This preserve’s delicate texture, perfectly spoonable and full of thin slices of Dancy tangerines, takes a scone from delicious to sublime. We love that this preserve has a bright color and bright flavor — it makes us smile every time we steal a little nibble straight from the jar!

Dancy Tangerine Preserves will be coming with us to the market this weekend, along with a mixture of old and new favorites.

All Markets (Grand Lake 3/5 & Temescal 3/6):

We hear there’s a chance of rain this weekend, but don’t let that keep you from visiting our market stand to try these flavors! Besides, you can reward yourself for braving the rain by choosing a jar to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. See you at the market!

BCF on Foodzie!

We are pleased to announce that our Midsummer Blackberry Preserves will be featured as an exclusive flavor in Foodzie’s March Tasting Box!

We’ve been very excited to work with Foodzie and include our flavors on their website — they are currently featuring our Black & Blueberry Jam and our Pink Grapefruit-Blood Orange Marmalade, as well as our Gift-Wrapped 3-Pack. Foodzie is a great way to send a wide variety of the most delicious goodies to a lucky friend or family member! They’ve got a great post up on unique ways to enjoy your favorite jam flavor — yum, jam in a milkshake!

Our Most Recent Flavors – February

Just in case you haven’t had a chance to check out the Blue Chair Fruit online store recently, here are some of our newer flavors — either flavors we’ve just made or ones we’ve had squirreled away for the cold months of winter.

Bergamot Marmalade: One of our favorites for tea-time, as described in Kate’s blog post

Blood Orange-Chestnut Honey Marmalade with Rosemary: A marmalade that perfectly marries sweet and bitter, whose hint of rosemary is perfectly suited for savory applications

Lemon & Pink Grapefruit Marmalade: Pink grapefruit is always a favorite winter citrus fruit, and this marmalade captures its essence

Lime Marmalade: Sweet and sassy, and we believe it would make an awesome Cosmo!

Olallieberries in Syrup: We held onto a few jars of this summer favorite, and it’s a real hit spooned over ice cream or stirred into yogurt

More and more fruits are coming into season, so keep your eyes on our site for new marmalade flavors! We’ve got some great recipes up our sleeves…

February Jam Club Flavors

Now that we’re in the heart of marmalade season, our Jam Club members are receiving some yummy citrus flavors!

February’s delicious Jam Club flavors were:

We also have new marmalades to bring to the farmers’ market for our Bay Area customers. On drizzly days like we’ve been having, there’s nothing like a bit of marmalade with your morning tea to help you perk right up!

All Markets (Grand Lake 2/19 and Temescal 2/20):

Hope everyone stays warm and dry this weekend!

Is It Jam or Jelly or Preserves? (Or Marmalade?)

“What’s the difference between jam and marmalade?” is the question we receive most frequently at farmers’ markets. We’ve had so much practice explaining the difference that we thought we’d reproduce it here for you — that way you can become an expert at differentiating between different types of preserves! If you find yourself craving more in-depth information after reading this article, you can learn even more in The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

Preserves: Preserves constitute a broad category that includes jam, jelly, and marmalade, as well as pickles, chutneys, and any other canned food. Basically, if you (or someone) has put in work to make food last longer than it would on its own, it’s considered a preserve. Everything we make is technically a preserve.

Jam vs Jelly & Marmalade: Jams differ from jellies and marmalades on two fronts: 1) the end product, and 2) the way we achieve that end product. For clarity’s sake, we’ll break it down by each part.

How each preserve is different

Jam has a rustic, homogenous appearance

Jam is perhaps the most well known fruit-based preserve. Jam appears very rustic: a squishy, somewhat homogenous spread where the original fruit is included and remains at least partially intact, even if it does look a bit different from the original fresh fruit. It is frequently possible to identify the original fruit just by looking at a jam. At its best, jam tastes much like the original fresh fruit.

Jelly is a cooked fruit juice that has set, with no actual pieces of fruit in it. At its best, it should be clear and free of any residual fruit particles, appearing almost translucent. The set should be firm but not gummy. It is difficult to tell merely by looking at a jelly what its constitutive fruit is. Unlike a jam, which capitalizes on the fresh flavor of the original fruit, a jelly’s flavor is that of the fruit after several hours of cooking.

Marmalade is a balanced combination of clear jelly with pieces of fruit suspended in it. This fruit may or may not be citrus. Marmalades can be truly exquisite, their balance of translucent jelly and opaque fruit pieces creating a beautiful look reminiscent of a stained glass window. Some marmalades, however, such as those made from Seville oranges, can tend to be much darker and so densely set that they become opaque. Marmalade, like jelly, does not taste of fresh fruit, though the pieces of whole fruit should maintain much of the original brightness of flavor.

Marmalade has clearly defined fruit pieces suspended in a jelly

About making each preserve

Jam, at its base, is made simply by cooking down whole or cut fruit with sugar and lemon juice. The jam maker’s primary goal is to preserve the original fresh flavor of the fruit itself. Many jams can be made in a single day and are relatively simple to prepare.

Jam cooking in our favorite copper preserving pan

Jelly is made by obtaining a cooked juice which has absorbed all the flavor and pectin of the original fruit. This is accomplished by simmering the fruit in water for a long time. Once the fruit’s flavor (or “personality”) and pectin have leeched into the water, the original fruit is strained out and discarded. The resulting juice is then boiled rapidly with sugar to a high enough temperature for it to “set” into a jelly as it cools. While some fruits possess enough natural pectin to set on their own after sufficient boiling, many require the addition of commercial pectin to ensure a set.

Marmalade takes the jelly-making process one step further by adding suspended pieces of fruit to the jelly. While there are different methods of making marmalade, it is generally a three-day process involving soaking and cooking the raw fruit in water, then adding sugar and lemon juice and cooking the marmalade until done. Although marmalade is frequently citrus-based, it is possible to incorporate almost any fruit into a marmalade.

The take-home message

The take-home message, which we fully encourage you to use to impress people at cocktail parties, is this: Jam is a simple, rustic preserve which results from cooking whole fruit with sugar until the mixture becomes cohesive. Marmalade has clearly defined fruit pieces suspended in a jelly, and is achieved through a longer process; this process is very different from jam-making, most importantly because the fruit involved is boiled in water. Of course, there are many permutations within these seemingly limited boundaries!

We hope these tips will help improve your preserve-identifying skills! Jams, jellies, and marmalades are a big world full of many delicious variations, and we’re happy to help provide some insight.

*All photos in this post are by Sara Remington, from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook