"Small batch is big around here," Alison Roman of Maiden Preserves says, referring to the New York-area food scene, "but in this case it actually serves a purpose." Since larger batches of jam and marmalade would need to be cooked longer and that can make the sugar and gelling agents act unpredictably, she and her partner, Eva Scofield, made all of their preserves in 2 kilogram (~5 lb.) batches. The two met originally at Momofuku Milk Bar, where Roman was sous chef and Scofield was involved in logistics; but they quickly determined that they wanted to start a business on their own.
A fair number of their flavors contain alcohol, which has to do both with the makers' own tastes and the fact that booze "has a natural affinity for fruit and is a great way of imparting flavor," according to Scofield. "Oranges and bourbon is an awesome combination, as evidenced by all the classic cocktails that use it. And Campari works well with blood oranges, since it adds a little bitterness that you might want but isn't always there. Plus, the color is so pretty."
As well as including alcohol, the preserves go well with alcohol. Their blog contains recipes for cocktails using jam or marmalade to add sweetness and flavor. "It's so interesting to see what people create with them," Roman says, "One woman came to us raving about using marmalade on a pork roast."
The Weck jars they use are favored by design-minded preservers for their clean lines, glass lids, and metal clips. While they're more expensive than other options, Scofield and Roman believe in committing to an aesthetic that supports their product. "If it doesn't look good," Roman explains, "people won't want to eat it." And even though they've never had a single person offer to bring the jars back—"people buy the jars," they joke, "the marmalade is just a bonus,"—they're considering a deposit and return program for minimalists or customers with exceedingly limited storage space.
Visit MaidenPreserves.com for a vendor list and information about upcoming flavors.
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