What Can You Do With Unusual Preserves?

Sometimes when I am traveling, I find a local market or farm stand. I like to seek out regional delicacies that I can take home. Sometimes I come across a jar of something really interesting, but it's so unusual and unique that I don't know what to do with it when I get home.

Take for example, in the photo above: clockwise from top right, a jar of maple jelly that I found at Atwater Market in Montréal, and jars of lavender & rose petal confit that I found at a small roadside stand in Languedoc, France. What do you do with these?

Solution one: gift them to someone else!

Solution two: use them yourself. Sweet, fruity, and floral preserves can be used on biscuits, scones, other baked goods, and as a condiment for meats and chicken. Spicier preserves such as pepper jelly are tasty spread on a cracker with some cream cheese. They're also really good as a condiment for seafood. Any sort of unusual preserve can be a wonderful addition to a cheese plate, as cheese buyer Gordon Edgar points out. Try stirring a spoonful of preserves in your tea the way the Russians do.

(Image: Kathryn Hill)