A good preserve expresses the beauty of the fruit,” says June Taylor, the Bay Area–based grande dame of artisanal jam. Taylor has scaled back her business considerably in recent years, but her fruit-forward approach (using a light hand with sugar) continues to inspire others. We’ve rounded up six wonderful ways to celebrate the state’s lavish fruit basket.
With the addition of whole vanilla beans, luscious Blenheim apricots become even more decadent. The dessert-like combination is made by chef Fateha Id boubrik, who drives down to Hollister for the apricots and makes the jam in a commissary kitchen in San Francisco. Trained in the culinary arts in France, Id boubrik took top honors in 2021 at Confituriades, a prestigious competition that is also known as the World Jam Championships.
Frog Hollow Farm’s renowned peaches retain their core identity as fragrant preserves, thanks to a finely tuned process followed by farm co-owner Rebecca Courchesne. She leaves the skins on for better flavor and cooks a shallow layer of peaches down quickly in a tilting brazier, commonly used by restaurants to make stock. It also helps that Courchesne has complete quality control over the fruit—grown organically just east of Mount Diablo, it’s picked at peak ripeness and frozen, so regardless of when a jar is purchased throughout the year, it’s always from a fresh batch.
The pluot, a plum-apricot hybrid bred in Modesto, took the fruit world by storm in the 1980s. Its depth of flavor, balanced by plum tang, results in preserves with exceptional richness and complexity. Dafna Kory, the founder of Emeryville-based Inna, produces single-varietal jams to showcase the subtle qualities of each variety—in this case, organic Flavor King pluots from Fresno County.
Established in 1891, E. Waldo Ward & Son is the oldest jam company in California—even older than Knott’s original berry stand. Jeff Ward, part of the fourth generation to run the family business, continues to make marmalade on a parcel of the original orchard in the foothills city of Sierra Madre, about 20 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles. Among his innovations is an inspired pairing of Valencia oranges and Maradol papayas from Mexico; the sumptuous papaya pulp pushes the bitterness of the peel into the background and lets the sweetness of the orange take center stage.
Besides baking bread and cooking farm-to-table meals for guests at Emandal, owner Tamara Adams puts up around 80 kinds of preserves a year, inspired by the bounty around her. The vintage summer resort on the edge of the Mendocino National Forest has a one-acre organic garden and orchard. It provides strawberries, raspberries, wild plums, rhubarb, and tart red cherries, combinations of which are then supplemented by purchased peaches and apricots to make Good Ol’ Red Stuff, a perennial favorite for its tart-sweet character.
This marmalade is an ode to fall: navel oranges are accented with cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom, which will pique your taste buds. Jam maker Tanya Seibold uses only organic fruit from the trees on her 5.5-acre farm in Santa Rosa and what she gleans from residential orchards in Sonoma County, saving perfectly good fruit from going to waste. And yes, she also makes marmalade from an abundance of Meyer lemons, the unofficial state fruit.