Recipe Development: Smoked Blackberry

It’s way past time to add to our menu of jam flavors. Pear and grapefruit seasons are essentially done, and we’re moving onto strawberries. I’m using the 8 millesconds of downtime between fruit waves to play with something that’s been on my radar for a while now: Smoked Blackberry Jam.


Okay, so a smoker isn’t used to impart that campfire flavor to the jam. Instead, I’m pouring boiling jam over dried leaves of lapsang souchong tea, essentially making a jam tea. The tea leaves sit at the bottom of my sieve, so the process also pulls out all the berry seeds while pushing the hot jam through the leaves. The vapors are pretty intense!

I ended up putting back some of the strained seeds into the jam for some extra texture. I wrongly assumed most jam fans would want a seedless jam. But a completely unscientific poll on my personal Facebook page shows respondents actually prefer seeds in the berry jam… and chunks of fruit. That’s good news, since you can’t have chunky fruit in blackberry jam without seeds.

So the smoked blackberry will have seeds and chunky fruit. Stay tuned for more updates as this new flavor wends its way toward reality!

New! Recipes and Cheese Pairings

All the Paragon Jams flavors work really well on toast or your starch vehicle of choice. And as creative cooks know, jam is a welcome condiment, a sweet or tart note that brightens or mellows anything it’s mixed with. So we’ve started compiling interesting, tasty new recipes using Paragon Jams that go way beyond your morning schmear.

With its sugar content and thick, syrupy texture, jam is an obvious choice as a glaze for meat, fish and veggies. The Pear Tarragon-miso glaze is catching on as a complement to grilled fish (black cod, salmon, halibut, sea bass), for pork chops or pork loins, and even oven-roasted veggies or stove top stir-fries.

Judy's Loaves and Fishes Sandwich, with Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, sardines, arugula, stone-ground mustard, and mashed white beans with thyme.

Judy’s Loaves and Fishes Sandwich, with Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, sardines, arugula, stone-ground mustard, and mashed white beans with thyme.

The peppery, citrus notes in the Pink Grapefruit Marmalade with Pink Peppercorns also brings out something extra with salmon or other oily fish (sardines, mackerel, anchovies). A friend also likes how the grapefruit marmalade works with duck breast as a glaze that goes on 10 minutes before it’s removed from the oven to be served.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Paragon Jams’ recipe page, you’ll also see some cheese pairing suggestions.

As always, the recipes and serving suggestions are little more than a stepping-off point. Let your imagination (and whatever you’ve got shoved in the back of the fridge) inspire you in fun (and tasty!) ways. And if you hit on something particularly good, please email us (info [at] paragonjams [dot] com) with your discoveries.

Crafted LA Turns Two

We’re joining the celebration as Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles celebrates its second anniversary. This artisanal marketplace fills a San Pedro warehouse near the water with all manner of handcrafted foods, clothing, and collectibles, and to mark its second anniversary, they’re throwing a party — the Home Made Brew & Food Festival on Sunday, June 29 from 2-6 pm.

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Paragon Jams will be among a variety of vendors showcasing homemade goods and that part of the event is free; tickets to the beer garden are $25 each.

We’ll be serving a few food items made tastier with the addition of one of our signature jams — our Pear Tarragon Jam/Miso Glaze continues to delight and confound the skeptics — come find out why! Stop by our stand, have some some nosh and a chat, and prepare to have your tastebuds activated.

And after selling out of Apricot Jam six weeks ago, we’re thrilled to announce we’ve replenished our inventory. Come by and restock your own larder!


Sweet on Apricots

I’ve had a soft spot for apricots for as long as I can recall. I first encountered them in dried form, growing up in Denver. Even as a 16 year-old, I can remember thinking, “These must be amazing when they’re fresh.”


And indeed they are. I’ve lived in Southern California now for 13 years, and we await the June-July arrival of fresh apricots in the farmers’ markets like the rain (no, they don’t coincide). It’s not really apricot season for me til the Royal Blenheims arrive (despite Fruit Detective David Karp’s entreaty to consider the Anya and Yulia varieties). The Blenheims have rich, full flavor with great sugar-acid balance; the skin is also gorgeously speckled and sports enough hues to make a rainbow trout jealous.

Apricots are also what got me into jam making more than 12 years ago. I’d buy 30-40 pounds of fruit, cook it up, and have my Christmas presents all ready before the end of July. Unlike the other flavors at Paragon Jams, the apricot is unadorned with any herbs or spices. Well-meaning friends have suggested thyme and ginger as possible additions. I cannot do it; I cannot improve on this saffron-y pearl of the stone fruit family. The apricot stands alone.


The apricot season is always too short. So by mid- to late July when the fruit runs out, it’s gone. Pears, strawberries and citrus I can get most months out of the year in Southern California. Since I can’t replenish the PJ Apricot Jam stock at will, I expect we’ll run out of it relatively quickly. Grab a couple jars and tear the lid off the best part of summer!

Jam, Muffins, Chicks & Flicks

We’re trying something a little different here: Between now and Sunday, Nov. 3, Paragon Jams will donate 10 percent of all jam sales to support the rollout of Cathryn Michon’s indie feature film, Muffin Top, a “sweet and funny chick flick made by actual chicks,” according to the filmmaker herself.

It’s not just because Cathryn is a bit of a nutter when it comes to Paragon Jams‘ pink grapefruit marmalade with pink peppercorns (go here and scroll down to Product Reviews if you don’t believe it). And it’s not because she’s smart and funny and an incredibly talented writer/actor/director. No, we’re supporting Cathryn’s indie film rollout because she’s subverting business as usual, employing lots of women on both sides of the camera, and taking creative and artistic risks that aren’t for mere mortals.

Cathryn launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to fund a multi-city red-carpet tour that everyone can get involved in. So whether you donate there or get involved via Paragon Jams, keep an eye out for this movie, due out in the spring of 2014. It’s a great way to support more of the kinds of films Hollywood should be making, not to mention the seriously funny, gifted and creative women who make them.

We’re already off to a great start today, with a generous jam order from Clark M (thank you, kind sir!). This is a great way to sweeten the pot for women in film.

Getting Ready for the Big Show


One of the biggest food fairs in Los Angeles, Artisanal LA, is right around the corner — it opens to the public at 11 am, Saturday, Oct. 12 and runs til 6 pm (same hours Sunday). The event marks the official debut of Paragon Jams, and we’ll be joining more than 175 other specialty vendors showcasing a variety of edibles, crafts and other goods.

Artisanal LA is being held at the LA Mart in downtown Los Angeles (a new venue for the event), located at Washington Blvd. and Broadway, right across the street from the Expo Line light rail (attention, Westsiders!). Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door.

Stop by and say hello! We’ll be offering samples of our Pear Tarragon Jam, Strawberry Basil Preserves, and Pink Grapefruit Marmalade with Pink Peppercorns. We’ll also be giving away three (3) limited edition Paragon Jams aprons.

It should be quite a party — bring your appetite!