By Mary Ann Ebner
Families have slathered jams and jellies on toast and biscuits at breakfast for generations. But those with deeper jam experiences agree: Some jams and jellies just don’t taste like the others.
When it comes to Hudson Valley jam, Lynne Goldman of Coyote Kitchen finds a place for traditional flavors like strawberry and grape, but a range of choices keeps her products seasonal and fresh, taking customers on a tasting tour that can’t be matched in the supermarket aisle.
Italian plums, fresh ginger, lemon juice, vanilla beans, cinnamon and dozens of other flavorful ingredients all make an appearance.
She could prepare jam all day long, but Goldman leaves the kitchen to source ingredients and to sell her small-batch jams and jellies. She makes her way around a number of farms and markets and, on Saturday mornings, sets up a booth at the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market at Boscobel. (Once the market moves to St. Mary’s Parish Hall for the winter, she plans to participate every other week.)
“I’m a farmer’s market lady,” Goldman said as she distributed bite-size crackers and plum jam on a market day. “Italian plums are in season and I’ll use as many as I can now and I’ll freeze some.”
Her ever-changing product line includes selections such as bourbon sour mash peach jam, cherry habanero honey jelly, lime marmalade and a selection of mustards.
“Last year about this time we were doing a booth at the Bear Mountain Oktoberfest,” she said. “People kept coming over and saying ‘Jam lady, jam lady, have you got any mustard?’ So the next time I came out, I brought one. It’s now sold at the Bear Mountain Inn.”
Making great jam, jelly, marmalade and mustard takes more than reliable recipes. “I put in easily 6o to 80 hours a week,” Goldman said. “I don’t look at it that way — as work — because I love what I do.”
To procure ingredients from huckleberries to banana peppers, Goldman stays in contact with farmers and purveyors. “Prep is the thing,” she said. “First you find everything and bring it back to the kitchen. Then fill the sink with water and vinegar and you have to scrub everything and it’s all handwork. In the cooking process, some fruits you can stir for three hours because it’s an evaporation process. If you cook slowly, you don’t have to use so much sugar.”
Perhaps the crowning step in Coyote preparations comes with layering, such as folding fresh thyme in with peaches. She creates, cooks and cans throughout the year and reserves enough enthusiasm to describe each jar’s contents.
“Good quality jams and jellies make a great condiment,” she says, “and you don’t need a lot. Marmalade is kind of like a gourmet secret. Chefs use it to glaze salmon, chicken and vegetables.”
Try jam as a base for sauces or turn a simple cake into a lush dessert. Spread one of Coyote Kitchen’s jams between cake layers using the teacake recipe shared below.
If you stop by Goldman’s booth for samples, check the labels. When the jam lady sets up the booth, she places the mild jams on your left and the hot jams on your right. When her husband sets up, it’s the opposite.
Blackberry Jam Cake
1 stick softened butter, salted
3/4 cup sugar
2 medium eggs
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups blackberry jam (or your favorite flavor)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Use two 8-inch baking pans or one 9-inch pan and divide the layer.) Grease baking pans. Cream softened butter and sugar. Beat eggs and add to sugar mixture. Mix flour, salt and baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into sugar mixture and stir gently. Bake in greased pans 20 minutes. Cool and place bottom cake layer on plate. Smother layer with jam, adding an additional ½ cup of jam for generous drippings. Place second layer over jam topping. Dust with powdered sugar. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.