If you think jams are sweet, I want to see your face when you try these. (heh, heh, heh)
Zoie Glass knows how to can. She grew up canning regularly in northern Minnesota. When she gave her jams to friends as gifts, they encouraged her to try and sell them. Her response was an enthusiastic: "Sounds like a lot of work."
Eventually, though, Glass started sampling store-bought jams. She was surprised by how many of the jams, even the ones sold at co-ops, were made with high fructose corn syrup, came out of the jar in one solid clump, and had flat flavor.
She knew her jams offered something new. To make the jam, the Glass family uses produce grown by local farmers and sugar instead of corn syrup. Instead of a solid block, the Glass jam has a softer texture and is easily stirred. The Glass family opened Lucille's Kitchen Garden for business in 2007, setting up shop at the Mill City Market. Glass says she was surprised by how many regularly weekly customers came by for the jams -- using them, not just for breakfast toast, but for party appetizers and as glazes for fish and meat.
I caught up with Glass this weekend and sampled four pepper jams - garlic pepper jam, blueberry pepper jam, green pepper jam, and raspberry pepper jam. I know what you're thinking - garlic jam? Sounds like some shady character from California's Gilroy garlic festival, maybe a second cousin to the fabled garlic ice cream? But hold on paranoid eater, the garlic pepper jam was my favorite. It's golden in color and tangy, sour, and sweet at the same time -- immediately reminiscent of Asian-American food. Glass says she used it for Thanksgiving dinner this year, smoking a salmon and glazing it in the garlic jam. Another favorite recipe involves cooking shrimp and rice noodles and then mixing them with a garlic jam - butter sauce.
Glass has recipe ideas for all her jams (raspberry jam with garlic and brie, blueberry jam with mascarpone, green pepper in a zesty cranberry sauce, roast chicken in a garlic jam glaze). The blueberry pepper jam is the mildest - dark, sweet, with a little pluck from the peppers. The green pepper jam has a bright note of lemon, from the organic lemon juice Glass uses. The raspberry pepper jam was fruity, but with a fiery kick from the peppers.
Motivated by Glass's many recipes, I brought the raspberry jam home for immediate use. I spooned it on some brie and baked the whole concoction in pastry dough -- and had a grand ol' time. Fruity, spicy and oozy, what more could you want for a winter snack?