Exploring the World of Fruit Preserves
We're embarking on a flavorful journey today. Get ready to uncover the delightful world of fruit preserves. We're talking fruit preserves, from jams & jellies, to marmalades and Spanish membrillos. But before we delve into these delicious concoctions, let's talk a little bit about the Girl Meets Dirt approach to crafting these preserves.
From the Orchard to Your Spoon: Our Fruit Sourcing and Processing 🌳
Our passion for preserves starts in the orchard. We source as much of our fruit as we can from small, local farms on Orcas Island- many of which have been producing fruit for more than 100 years. The fruits are picked at peak ripeness, ensuring the preservation of their optimum flavor and nutrient content. We then process these fruits by hand, with utmost care, cooking them down with organic, fair-trade cane sugar, and fresh organic lemon juice we squeeze ourselves. Our commitment to these processes and to avoiding unnecessary additives allows the natural beauty (and flavor!) of the fruit to truly shine. Unlike almost every other jam, we don't use any added pectin or citric acid (did you know commercial citric acid can be derived from corn?!). This, combined with our local, single varietal approach to sourcing our fruit, helps us create the exceptional quality you find in every Girl Meets Dirt product.
The Divide: Jam vs Jelly
Jam is the proud champion of whole fruit preservation. It retains all the goodness of the fruit, pulp and all, in its spread. The texture is full-bodied and chunky, each spoonful a flavorful reminder of the fruit it's crafted from.
Here at Girl Meets Dirt, our jams are made in the traditional French 'confiture' style. This method, which dates back centuries, is all about creating a harmonious blend of fruit and sugar that is then cooked down to perfection. We believe in staying true to these time-honored traditions, right down to the copper confiture pans we use – the traditional vessels for jam-making. Their even heat distribution allows us to cook with precision, capture and retain the full, vibrant flavor of the fruit, leading to a jam that is as authentic and delectable as it can get.
Jellies, on the other hand, are made only with the juice of fruit. After extracting the juice, the rest of the fruit – the pulp, the skin, and all the fibrous bits – often end up discarded. The juice is then set with added pectin to achieve that characteristic 'jelly' wobble. While jellies have their charm, they do miss out on the rich, full-bodied texture and complex flavors that come from using the whole fruit.
Membrillo, also known as quince paste or quince cheese, is a type of preserve that is popular in Spain- though it is believed to have ancient origins, possibly as far back as the fourth or fifth century AD in the Roman empire. The term "membrillo" is derived from the Spanish word for quince, "membrillero". Traditionally, membrillo is made by pureeing quince and cooking down the whole fruit slowly with sugar for a long time, allowing the pectin to come out and set the preserve thoroughly. While traditionally made with quince, we have adopted this style of preservation for other fruits too, creating a unique range of fruit preserves in this classic style, including Quince, Italian Plum, Ruby Red Apple, and Pink Bartlett. These preserves bubble in the pots longer, to allow the maximum evaporation, resulting in concentrated flavor & beautifully smooth, thick texture.
Now, let's explore the world of marmalade – a zesty preserve made from citrus fruits. This preserve is made using every part of the fruit, including the peels. Despite its association with citrus, the earliest known recipe for marmalade is from the Roman empire, and uses quince! Our Quince Marmalade harkens back to this history of the preserve. Generally, modern marmalades are set apart from other preserves because of the large amount of water that is added during the cooking process. Because citrus peels have such a high natural pectin content, marmalades can set more liquid than is produced by the juice of the fruit, and need the extra liquid to cook down into. At Girl Meets Dirt, we love taking a unique twist on this classic with our special edition Greengage & Grapefruit Spoon Preserves. It's a tart, uniquely flavored preserve that sings with the harmonious blend of greengage plums and grapefruit.
With the incredible variety of preserves, from the full-bodied jams to the zesty marmalades and unique membrillo, each has its unique charm and flavor profile. The Girl Meets Dirt approach – local sourcing, whole fruit use, and avoidance of unnecessary additives – lets the authentic flavors shine through. So buckle up and explore this vibrant, flavor-filled world of fruit preserves, made with love and care.
Thanks for joining us for this deep dive into fruit preserves! If you liked learning about the history of preserves, you might like some of our other blogs, where we talk about jam and cheese pairings, pét-nats, and much more!