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Best Locally Made Jams
The third and fourth generations behind the San Gabriel Valley institution E. Waldo Ward & Son cook up some two dozen jams and preserves. Of the original 30 acres of land purchased in 1891, only about 3 remain and are devoted to citrus that goes into marmalades. For everything else—including strawberry, apricot, and boysenberry flavors—deliveries come in from Ventura, Central California, and Oregon. But on-site production means small batches are made from longtime family recipes. » 273 E. Highland Ave., Sierra Madre, 626-355-1218.
Artisan chocolatier Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections added jams and preserves to her line of sweets last summer. Strawberry-rhubarb and strawberry-vanilla bean are among her top sellers; each provides a burst of flavor and real pieces of fruit. The organic strawberries (usually Gaviotas) come from the Hollywood and Santa Monica farmers' markets. Care for a recipe? Gordon and home canning expert Kevin West teach classes on preserving. » 3360 W. 1st St., L.A., 213-739-8149.
Whenever possible, Lennie LaGuire of Ellelle Kitchen gathers fruit from neighbors' yards. Fresh-picked Meyer lemons add depth to her blackberry-Meyer lemon jam (the blackberries are from Pudwill Farm, based in Nipomo, which sells at the Pasadena and Santa Monica farmers' markets). A journalist by trade, LaGuire began making jam two years ago after a stint at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Right now she's producing combinations like fig-vanilla bean and golden raspberry-peach. » Available at Joan's on Third, 8350 W. 3rd St., L.A., 323-655-2285.
Strawberries grown by Harry's Berries—superset Gaviotas and Seascapes—are legendary among foodies and chefs. What doesn't sell at farmers' markets is turned into juice and strawberry preserves, the latter made the old-fashioned way under the label Gean Farm: fruit and sugar slow-cooked until the mixture naturally thickens, with no added pectin. The result is a robust spread that's perfect on an English muffin. » Available at Beverly Hills Farmers' Market, Alpine and Civic Center Drs., 310-285-6830.
Laura Ann Masura is a self-described "retired independent rock star," but the former drummer is still (ahem) jamming. For what goes into her Laura Ann's Jams, she shops at the Hollywood, Atwater Village, Santa Monica, and Silver Lake farmers' markets. Her blueberry-Meyer lemon variety is made with Pudwill Farm berries and lemons from a friend's tree in Hollywood. A fearless experimenter, Masura also offers raspberry-habanero, green plum-cardamom, and Asian pear-champagne blends. » Available at Stories, 1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-413- 3733.
Photographs by Carin Krasner