If you’ve ever been to Oregon in the summer, then you know that the state’s Pacific coast is a veritable paradise of long sunny days, cool sea breezes, and bounties of bright juicy berries that stain everyone from Portland to Medford with marks of sweet happiness. Oregon’s famed berries are just as fleeting as they are delicious, though, and a natural extension of the annual fruit explosion is a strong tradition of home canning and food preservation so that summer’s sweetest flavors can be enjoyed all year.
Oregon native Miranda Rake’s local berry jams are quite simply some of the best we’ve ever tasted. After a stint in the early aughts selling her jams to a friend’s restaurant under the name “Miranda’s Jam,” she moved to NYC in 2009 to pursue a masters degree in food & culture at NYU and jam took a backseat to academia for a few years.
When she moved back to Portland in 2013, Miranda’s natural Oregonian instincts kicked in and her jam making came back with newfound energy in the form of Plum Tree Jam, which focuses on the magical bonanza of native Oregon berries, particularly those varieties that are a bit unusual and nearly impossible to find elsewhere. These berries burst with summer sunshine, which makes them all the more precious in the land of seemingly endless rain. As Miranda puts it, “Anticipation mounts through the drizzle of winter and our reward is brief but so juicy sweet. I hope my jams preserve that transitory joy for savoring year round.”
To let the pure berry flavors speak up for themselves, Miranda makes her jams with just berries, cane sugar, and a touch of lemon juice. Because she doesn’t use pectin, the jams have a very spreadable, somewhat soft-set consistency that we love (and which makes for a particularly ooey-gooey PB&J). There is about half a pound of fruit in each and every jar, simmered slowly into jammy perfection.
Tayberries are tangy and slightly sweet in their fresh berry form. These fragile, oblong beauties of Scottish descent become tantalizingly floral, bright, and sweet when transformed into jam. We especially love Tayberry Jam, a Good Food Awards 2015 winner, with a strong cup of coffee or tea, buttery croissants, and the rich flavors of our Peanut Cashew and Almond Cocoa butters.