On Small and Unmarked Jars of Jam

On Small and Unmarked Jars of Jam

Faith Durand
Apr 21, 2008

We have a theory of jam. The less labeling, the better it is. We discovered this jam at the market, and the cheesemonger practically went into raptures over its deliciousness. And yet there was no ingredient listing, no marketing or PR descriptions of its lemony goodness in fine type on its side. We bought it on faith, and word of mouth.

And, as you can see, we are left with only an empty jar - practically licked clean. We neglected to take a photo of the insides before they were demolished on toast, in sandwiches, and on biscuits. It was a bright yellow marmalade of lemon peel and Pernod, in a jammy tart filling so sweet and bright that we reached for it every day.

The old-fashioned ring top got stickier and stickier, and the diamond glass jar was like something we'd find lurking in the back of an antiques store. We never found out much about the maker or the cook; it's made by a local farmer, we think, and dropped off with other jellies and marmalades at the market.

Is it legal to sell jam with so little indication as to its provenance or origins? We don't know, but we feel that our theory was borne out in full by this tart-sweet marmalade. We bought it with little to recommend it except that tiny hand-scrawled label, and a cheesemonger's good word.

As the farmers market season approaches in all its homegrown glory, remember this little theory and test it out for yourself. Look for those spring ramps, yes, and garden-grown tomatoes and squash and all the rest of nature's bounty as the markets progress into summer, but don't forget about those heavenly products of real kitchens and small-batch artisans - jams, pickles, relishes, and marmalades. And the less labeling the better.

That's our theory, anyway.

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