Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Honeyed Jams for Valentine's Day

I know I shouldn't have favorites, but when it comes to local honey, someone's going to have to convince me not to love Rachel Adams' San Diego Honey Company. I first found her at the Solana Beach Farmers Market last June and wrote a Local Bounty piece about her for San Diego Magazine then. 

What I didn't really mention were her jams because I was so wowed by the honeys--special favorites of mine include the dark, full-bodied San Diego Wildflower Honey; the light and vanilla-toned Grapefruit Blossom; and a new variety, Sage & Rosemary Infused Honey, which I'll be using to glaze chicken or drizzle over cheese.

Last week I ran into Rachel at Simply Local, where she also sells her honeys, and she mentioned she had put up some new jams using honey--of course--instead of sugar. When she described them I knew I had to taste them, so on Sunday with my parents in tow, I drove up to the Solana Beach market to pick up some jars.

Rachel is relatively new to jamming. She says she started making jam in 2010 while in England for a few months. She found that jams there aren't as sweet as they are here and, inspired by a few local jam makers in her home town of Leiscestershire, she gave it a try. "I was hooked from the first jar because I loved being able to adjust the product to the right level of sweetness and let the fruit take center stage."

But it was only recently that it occurred to her to switch out sugar in favor of the honey she curates and sells. And with that, she now has a unique product.

In the past, Rachel created some intriguing flavors using sugar, including Orange Whiskey Marmalade, Brandied Persimmon, and Pear with Chardonnay. Yes, there's a theme here.

This week we found Raspberry Amaretto Honey, inspired by a jam she tasted in a little village in Wales. Rachel has a light hand with the amaretto. You get undertones of it to complement the bright raspberry flavor.

My dad--and I--fell in love with her Blueberry Blackcurrant Honey jam. The distinctive blueberry-ness was front and center with a terrific texture thanks to the presence of large, plump blueberries, but it was mellowed by blackcurrant concentrate, a blend of blackcurrant and honey she also makes and sells.

Less successful, for us at least, was the Blackberry Vanilla. Here the vanilla was just too pronounced and just didn't marry well with the fruit.

I don't need to tell you what to do with these jams. But this morning I added a dollop of the Raspberry Amaretto to my morning oatmeal and it made me smile through every bite.

And, of course, since Friday is Valentine's Day, I had to use it as the filling for heart-shaped icebox cookie sandwiches. I won't tell you who's getting them. It would ruin the surprise!

You can find Rachel's jams at her stall at the Sunday afternoon Solana Beach Farmers Market, at the shop Pangea is Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar, and online.

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