"The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day."
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
Unlike what this deliciously twisted quote implies, enjoying jams, jellies, and preserves don't have to be an unfulfilled promise. Thanks to nationwide brands like Smuckers and Bonne Maman, we have a sweet bevy of flavors to spread on our morning biscuits, but how do we choose?
First and foremost, while those country-wide brands can be safe options due to their familiarity, there is always the ever-insistent call to "buy local," one we should strive to heed. After all, don't you prefer supporting vendors and farmers in Louisiana and the Gulf coast? Isn't it ever so important to back the people in our own backyard? Of course it is! Not only does it feel great to help out our neighbors and buy local, it tastes great too.
Launched as a pop-up in 2016, Jamboree Jams is the brainchild of Sara Levasseur, who learned the art of jam-making from her grandmother in Ottawa, Canada. What began as a hobby has launched into a full-scale "jam-boree" with an online store, city-wide pop-ups, culinary collaborations, and a crowdfunding campaign to aid Levasseur in her plans to open her first brick and mortar in the space which formerly housed Shank Charcuterie. Touted as a "small-batch jam company," Jamboree Jams offers products made with locally-sourced fruits, copper pots, and natural forms of pectin (like their own, homemade apple pectin) in flavors like Blackberry & Purple Basil, Blood Orange Sumac, Fig & Lemon, Pear & Elderflower, Satsuma & Passionfruit, and Strawberry & Vanilla. In addition to selling her jams online and at select shops around the city (Seasoned Cookware, Congregation Coffee, Hotel Peter & Paul, Levee Baking Co., and more), Levasseur is also offering jelly-filled doughnuts monthly at Coffee Science's stand at the Mid-City Farmers Market. Past flavors have included spicy satsuma, chocolate hazelnut, and strawberry jam with chamomile cream. Follow her on Instagram @jamboreejams to discover when and where to get your jam-on!
Based in Lafayette, Noni's Kitchen was launched by Tori Frith to showcase her mother's (Noni) "family-famous," no-preservative, jellies and preserves. What was once given away as gifts to family and friends has now become a jammin' empire with products offered in locations all over the state. In New Orleans, you can find Noni's at Rouses Supermarkets, but you can also stay socially distanced and order online at noniskitchenllc.com. Dedicated to supporting local farmers, most of the fruits and peppers are sourced from nearby, such as blackberries from Mouton Cove, strawberries from Ponchatoula, and mayhaws from members of the Louisiana Mahaw Association. In addition to three fruit preserves, Noni's also offers three kinds of pepper jelly—Peppy, Peppier, and Peppiest—depending upon your preferred level of heat.
Robin Pringle has been enjoying her grandmother's pepper jelly since childhood. She began making "Big Mama's" green bell pepper jelly recipe and, from that base, began experimenting with other flavors, starting with blueberry. "I brought the blueberry pepper jelly and put it over a block of cream cheese and it was a hit!" Pringle said. Her success was "in the jar" from there on out with numerous pepper jelly concoctions from apple bacon and garlic to honeyed rosemary, crawfish, and even king cake. Pringle's jellies have become such a big hit, she's left her former work as a school teacher to concentrate on her jarred wonders full-time. You can find Robin's Rockin' Cajun Pepper Jelly on the Northshore and Southshore at spots like Acquistapace in Mandeville and Covington, Pat's Seafood, Pjs Coffee Shops, Breaux Mart, Langenstein's, and Faubourg Fresh Market in Algiers. If you're staying home to be safe, don't fret! You can also order Robin's Rockin Cajun Pepper Jelly on Etsy.
Finally, Berry Town Produce (Hammond and Ponchatoula) is a family-owned business that offers a large variety of locally-grown produce from nearby farms, including homemade salad dressings, cookies, candies, breads, sandwiches, seafood, hot plates, and, of course, a ton of jams, jellies, and preserves. A wide variety of jams are available from muscadine, key lime, and fig to peach, pear, and, naturally, strawberry. You can drive an hour or so to pick up preserves from one of their locations or place your order online at berrytownproduce.com.