Who doesn’t love a good jelly, jam or preserves? What’s not to love about fruit and sugar boiled until it’s thick and gooey, ready to spread on your favorite bread, be it wonder white, whole grain or Alfredo’s incredible artisan olive loaf? The sugar is a perfect all-natural preservative and making jelly is a cost-effective way to save the very best flavors of summer.
Over the years, we’ve become pretty sophisticated with our jams, jellies and preserves, going far beyond the old fashioned cloves stuck in pickled peaches or one of my childhood favorites, red food coloring in watermelon rind preserves.
Today’s flavors run the gamut from subtly-spiced, to herbed to fiery. In my fridge at this moment, I have plain old store-bought strawberry, black cherry, apricot and grape; locally made FROG (figs, raspberries, orange and ginger) and red pepper; gourmet roasted garlic and onion jam and my most recent acquisition. Fig Almond Spread from The Gracious Gourmet.
I popped by Shiraz Friday afternoon to pick up some wine Emily had special ordered for me—a nice dry Riesling called Eins Zwei Drei, which deserves its own post. As usual, I couldn’t leave with only what I came for.
Since sometime last year, I’ve been asking for the Almond Fig Spread we had enjoyed on a mountain road trip back in the summer of 2010. This time, I liked the answer, “It will be here any day now.” Turned out to be better than that, right there under our noses. I grinned while Emily searched the shipment and found what I’d been drooling over for more than a year.
Like many cooks, I have long used jams and jellies in all sorts of ways: with pancakes and waffles, on ginger crisps or graham crackers, over cream cheese on crackers, mixed with mustard and a little olive oil to glaze a pork loin or chicken breast, mixed with yogurt for my morning granola and a couple of times to substitute for honey or maple syrup in a recipe. Indeed, jams, jellies and preserves are a versatile standby in any kitchen.
That’s one reason I was so thrilled to get my hands on the Fig Almond Spread. I have no idea why they call it a spread instead of a jam or jelly, but who cares?
We loved it Friday night with the olive bread and the Tomme cheese Emily’s able assistant suggested. Saturday, I got in a comfort food mode and made, among other things, biscuits—or “biscuit” as they used to call them. A little butter and the Fig Almond spread made them heavenly. We had the same thing for tea this afternoon. I’ll probably have some with my homemade granola (another result of my comfort food binge) in the morning.
Truth be told, though, there is one way I like it best of all: on a spoon straight from the jar.
I should probably go ahead and ask Emily to order me a case.