While trying to decide on an artisan product to review, the first thing that came to mind is jam. Maybe it's because I enjoyed homemade biscuits last week, or maybe it's because the art of jam making brings to mind memories of our grandmothers—cooking down the puree over the stove, canning the preserves in an all-day affair. The maker of Confituras jam in Austin makes everything to order in small batches, all mixed in a large copper pot. It's truly artisanal and the flavors are worth writing about. Stephanie McClenny is the woman behind Confituras. She's the one stirring up the ingredients in the 19th century-style Mauviel copper pot (traditional for jam-making), the one canning each jar to order, and the one testing out which flavor combinations meld to make the right mix of sweet and savory.
Confituras jams are all made "small batch," meaning Stephanie never produces more than 10 pounds of the spread at a time. Each jar contains one pound of fruit, locally sourced from organic farms as much as possible given that season's crop. "Confituras" is the Spanish translation for the French word "confit" — which Stephanie will tell you, quite poetically, means "to reduce down to one's essence." Given Austin's Hispanic culture and influence, the name fits right in. Stephanie experiments with several derivations and flavor combinations in her test kitchen before arriving at the ones she now sells (both online and at the local farmer's markets). The winning combinations are often those that involve fruits and herbs that ripen together—Mother Nature's way of offering her own pairing recommendations.
The Celeste Fig with Lavender is absolutely divine, the lovely pulpy nectar of figs elevated with floral and aromatic notes from the lavender. I promise—it tastes even better than it sounds and smells, and I can't imagine a better way to start the morning than with a spoonful of this on some yogurt or a piece of toast.
The Pickled Blueberries flavor is very herbal and finishes with notes of allspice and black pepper. The acidity serves itself well in a salad (when you need a changeup from the regular old red wine vinagraitte) or on roasted meats such as pork.
Finally, the Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach is just perfect on some vanilla ice cream. When the sweet tooth strikes, simply put a spoonful or two on top and enjoy the subtle smoky undertone of Bourbon layered onto sweet, juicy peaches. It's like a one-minute peach cobbler.
Each and every one of the flavors is deliciously unique, and a spoonful from the jar will get your mind racing on the many ways you can enjoy it throughout the day. Perhaps the best thing about jam is the fact that it is a preserve, so you're safe to grab a few jars knowing they'll be around when the craving strikes. And with this jam I assure you that craving will arise often. It's truly artisanal.
Buy It! Browse or purchase Confituras jams online.
You'll see a wide range of unique, mouth-watering flavor combinations that change seasonally. Additionally, you can sign up for her weekly email for details on where the ingredients for the jams were sourced and pairing suggestions.
(Images: Chris Perez)