A tangy plume of sweet, acidic steam rises from a large copper pan as the simmering fruits gradually boil down to a glossy, sticky puddle. The alchemy of turning fresh fruits into preserve never ceases to amaze or inspire me.
I vividly remember my first jam encounter: eight years old, apricot jam in a cha chaan teng. I watched as the glistening jelly was spread across freshly buttered toast; eagerly sinking my teeth into the crust and feeling the sweet fruit dribble down my chin.
Fast-forward to my college years. During a bleak Canadian winter, I came across a jar of homemade peach preserve in the pantry. The seal broke with a crisp ‘pop’, revealing a beautiful peach compote inside: hearty morsels of cooked peach drenched in vanilla syrup. I took a spoonful, then another; savouring the warm taste of summer. It was that moment, with that peach jam, that sparked a lifelong passion for the art of preserving.
Working in food media for a decade has only fuelled this fire. Crossing paths with chefs, food producers and restaurateurs from around the world constantly inspires me to recreate flavours – a tribute to their creativity. I’ve experimented with dessert flavour profiles from peach and raspberry for Melba, to pear and chocolate for Belle Helene. I’ve mixed espresso, maple syrup, bacon and onion to create a rich bacon jam to spread on pizza.
My passion for preserves has given me long-lasting mementos of my travels: the bitterness of Seville oranges and zesty Japanese yuzu; sweet Amalfi lemons and Calabria’s aromatic bergamots. Though for me, nothing matches the exotic allure of quince: an acerbic fruit closely related to apples and pears. With a twist of lemon, gentle heat, and time, the hard yellow flesh magically yields into soft, crimson wedges with a floral aroma and honeyed flavours I can never say no to.
I go out of my way to source quality quinces every year, canning enough to last the next 12 months – but more importantly, to have enough to gift to friends: jams and marmalades are at their best when shared over scones and tea.
Watching friends enjoy the fruits of my passion is perhaps the most satisfying process of all. I watch and understand that it isn’t always about the exclusivity of the product – but the time and effort put into the simple pleasures in life. I believe jam not only preserves the season’s best: it also preserves memories, flavours of distant lands, and the joy of friendship.