For some, making jam or jelly from scratch might be an annual effort when favorite fruits are in season. I have always thought of jam as something that required preserving, either through canning or freezing procedures. It had actually never occurred to me that you could make jam and simply enjoy it today–until I heard about the fresh jam served by Executive Chef Jen Boye of the Mansion on Delaware Avenue. Arguably, The Mansion offers Buffalo’s finest accommodations. A highly-regarded boutique hotel, it provides guests with impeccable service and elegant lodging in an architecturally stunning building. Additionally, guests enjoy a remarkable breakfast which includes freshly baked scones, muffins and breads. One of the accompaniments Chef Boye has chosen to add to the morning menu is fresh, warm jam.
In season, Chef Boye uses local berries and figs from the tree that grows in the Mansion’s small but plentiful urban garden. This time of year, while the fig tree waits for warmer weather in the Mansion’s greenhouse, Chef Boye uses berries from her purveyors, or other items such as apples. The garden is an integral part of the Mansion’s offerings year round. Certainly the vegetables and fruit it bears make their way into salads, soups and main courses during the summer and fall, but dried herbs season dishes in the harshest of winter weather. Even the petals from the decorative rose bushes are combined with fresh ginger and reduced into a lovely syrup. Being managed sustainably, the garden allows Chef Boye and the Mansion’s staff to be creative with its harvest.
Chef Boye’s simple jam is both delicious and an excellent way to make even a peanut butter sandwich special. Once the jam has cooled it can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for two or three weeks “…or maybe even longer,” says Boye. “The sugar acts as a natural preservative, so if you’re careful not to let other food items contaminate it–like leaving a dirty knife or spoon in it–it should last quite awhile.”
In addition to crowning a scone or enhancing a peanut butter sandwich, Chef Boye recommends using the jam in a variety of ways. It can be served as a topper to oatmeal, an addition to yogurt or granola, or, (if taken off the heat a little sooner and therefore a little thinner in texture) as a topping for ice cream or cheesecake.
The Mansion’s Fig Berry Jam
3 cups mixed berries (an equal amount of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries works well)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 fresh figs, quartered
pinch of salt
Place above ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until sugar starts to melt and berries start to release their juices. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until mixture is thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool slightly and refrigerate in an air tight container. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
The Mansion on Delaware Avenue
414 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202
Image: Chef Jen Boye with her fresh berry and jam tableau