"To make the best possible jam, you need the best possible fruit," says Chris Austin of Ace Jams, which produces limited-edition runs of market-driven flavors. Austin describes himself as "very meticulous about sorting" the fruit, which can lead to very small batches of individual flavors. "Quince sold out in a week and a half," he explains, "because the quinces weren't very good this year."
The flavors on offer change from week to week; upcoming ones include pear/ginger jam with acacia honey, Chinese tea spice apple butter, and cardamom/grapefruit jelly. Austin says he's inspired by the jams of French pastry chef Christine Ferber and her "good flavor combinations."
Until recently, Austin cooked at Franny's in Prospect Heights and Ace Jams were available exclusively at its sister establishment, Bklyn Larder. But he's since moved on to Morris Food Truck, which sells gourmet grilled cheese (coming soon: breakfast sandwiches using Ace Jams!) around the city, and his products will be available more widely.
The company's name came from Austin's grandfather, a former Aussie rules football player. Austin explains that "the term 'that's ace' is a common expression in Australia, meaning that something is great, the top of the class. When he said it, I knew I'd done something good." Making jam "is something I take seriously," Austin says, and something he aims to do in a way that would earn him that coveted praise. He adds, "it's a phrase I long to hear, and cherish deeply."
Visit AceJams.com for more information.
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.