You may already know Ellen from our farmers' market stall.
What you may not know is that she's our new jam maker!
Plucked straight from our gardens and into the kitchen, Ellen has taken on the sticky, sweet job of creating our new McEvoy Ranch line of estate food products. We'll be following her each season, batch by batch, with tastings, videos and updates on new jam flavors. We hope you'll join us.
And here's a little background from the jam lady, herself:
It all started one Sunday several years ago. I was packing up the McEvoy Ranch farmers' market booth and Jesse Kuhn of Marin Roots Farm approached me and asked, "Do you want to take some strawberries home?" Jesse's farm lies directly across a beautiful winding road from McEvoy Ranch and his neighborly generosity is astounding. Turns out he wasn't just offering me a basket of his delicious Seascape strawberries; he had cases that hadn't sold.
"I can make some jam and give you a bunch," I said eagerly.
"Done," he replied. "Take as much as you like."
So I loaded six cases of strawberries (that's approximately 100 baskets) into our van, grabbed a bag of spearmint and some pineapple mint, and what followed was half-bliss, half-nightmare. Trying to process all those berries with just a few hours of one friend's help (thank you, Abigail), I dreamt of a rotting-strawberry mob out to get me because I wasted their prime, sweet, ripe youth. That week, I spent every spare moment cutting, cooking down, jarring or just plain worrying about strawberries.
After such a nerve-wracking experience, why am I signing up for more as the new jam maker as McEvoy Ranch?
Well the experience introduced me to the wonderful frenzy that jamming creates: the process of turning boxes and boxes of beautiful fruit into jars and jars of preserves, working quickly to capture a taste that is only possible when a fruit is perfectly ripe. Plus, the product that resulted, Strawberry-Mint Jam with Balsamic and Black Pepper, excited my flavor-combination obsession and the "mmmmm's" that resulted certainly egged me on.
In many ways, Margaret Koski-Kent, the head gardener of McEvoy Ranch, her staff and I are the perfect team to create a new jam line. In the gardens at McEvoy, we tend and harvest an amazing variety of fruits. We have one tree of this, two trees of that, all kinds of interesting varieties both old and new. Also we grow a variety of fresh herbs like rosemary, bay, thyme and mint, as well as edible flowers like roses, borage, nasturtium and pansies. I feel as if a great palate has been laid out in front of me and my mission, that I have enthusiastically chosen to accept, is to preserve the beauty, sweetness, spice and life of our produce, the creativity of our garden team, and the dedication of McEvoy Ranch to biodiversity and quality.
It's going to be a fun season and, as always, a delicious one.