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Food Artisans: The Jam Stand

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[Photograph: Stephanie Klose]

When longtime baking and crafting buddies Sabrina Valle and Jessica Quon set out to learn how to make jam, they didn't exactly have immediate success. "I was peeling all of the grapes by hand," Quon says," I got through about 20 before realizing it was a terrible idea."

But persistence paid off and they were soon handing out jars to their friends, who urged them to sell it. They formed a company, The Jam Stand, with a tagline inspired buy their initial misadventures—"Because there's so much more than grape jelly."

Being self-taught has disadvantages (see: peeling grapes by hand), but it has one major advantage, according to Quon: the freedom that comes with not being tethered to traditional methods and recipes. "It's why we have the funky flavors that we do," she explains; "We may start with a classic, but we're going to play with it to make it more unconventional."

While they've had up to 12 flavors in the rotation, Valle and Quon have found that they're best able to manage production when they limit their line to four signature flavors, plus one or two seasonal offerings. The signature flavors include Drunken Monkey (bananas, rum, and lime), Razzy Gabby (raspberry jalapeno), You're My Boy, BLUE-Berry Bourbon (blueberry, bourbon, and vanilla), and Sweet WINO-nion (a savory-sweet wine and onion jam).

While three quarters of the flavors in their regular rotation have a boozy bend, Quon says that wasn't their plan going in, explaining, "We want our flavors to be fun and whimsical and try to create flavor profiles that blend well together. We don't take ourselves too seriously, and find that in some concoctions, alcohol adds that flavor we're looking for."

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About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.

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