June Featured AB&J: Almond Ginger Butter + Doves & Figs Sparkle Jam
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Almond Ginger Butter
(Heirloom Mission Almonds, Crystallized Fiji Ginger (Ginger & Cane Sugar), Sea Salt)
One of Mark's earliest (and fondest) food memories is of his great-grandfather, Woodrow, opening and handing him an iced-cold glass bottle of Blenheim ginger ale during a break from trout fishing on the banks of an East Tennessee creek. That first sip – sharp and sweet with a strong peppery kick – was a flavor revelation, so he took another, and then another. From that moment on, he was hooked, and he sought out ginger in every form he could find it.
Our Almond Ginger Butter combines fresh-roasted Mission almonds with a gorgeous, golden-hued crystallized ginger from The Ginger People’s inspiring FIJI GINGER project, organic cane sugar, and sea salt. The resulting vibrant and lemony almond butter is delightful as a breakfast spread on warm waffles, a unique way to wake up your AB&J, a base for an Asian-inspired dressing, and of course, a snack right out of the jar.
Indigenous to Southeast Asia, ginger’s (Zingiber officinale) history reaches back more than 5000 years when it was used as an herbal medicine in modern-day India and China. It eventually traveled along spice routes to Ancient Rome, where it became a pantry staple known for its ability to enhance almost any dish. It continued as an obscure article of trade in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, and around the 12th Century, Arabian spice traders perfected a technique of drying and preserving ginger with coarse sugar, creating the form of crystallized ginger we know and love today. We love ginger because of its taste and texture, but it is also praised for its myriad medicinal properties, so don’t be shy with your spoon.
Doves & Figs Sparkle Jam
(Blueberries, Cane Sugar, Candied Ginger (Ginger, Sugar), Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest)
I first encountered Doves & Figs at the Taza Chocolate Factory Store in Somerville, MA. Taza co-founder Alex Whitmore has been a friend and mentor since my days at Counter Culture Coffee in the mid aughts, when we worked with Taza on a number of collaborative projects. In fact, I had the idea for Big Spoon Roasters just a few days before a trip to visit Alex and his team in the fall of 2010. Inspired by Taza’s success, and their ability to maintain industry-leading quality and integrity, I shared my vision with Alex, who gave the perfect combination of encouragement and advice. Doves & Figs had been in business for about a year at that point, and the Taza store was sampling out their “Razzle Dazzle” jam, a perfect blend of tart raspberries and Taza chocolate. Immediately a fan, I brought home a few jars of their jam to use in PB&Js with some of our very first nut butter test recipes. In a sense, we’ve been “working” with Doves & Figs for quite some time now.
As a little girl, Doves & Figs founder Robin Cohen spent summers at her family’s small motel in Montauk, Long Island. According to Robin, the town was less refined than it is today, but the long stretches of sand between soaring cliffs and cool foaming ocean still defined the character of the place. Robin’s family washed all of the buckets and pails retired from sand castle building and filled them with local wild grapes, which had grown fat, dark purple, and plentiful by summer’s end. She and her brother squeezed piles and piles of grape “middles” from their skins so their dad could make gallons of grape jam. As Robin tells it, the “sweet drunken scent of grapes and sugar wove a crazy path out of the windows riding on the breeze and drew motel patrons to the kitchen.” While most kids wanted to open a lemonade stand, Robin dreamed of someday selling summer jam.
More than a few years have passed, and Robin has long since realized her dream in the form of Doves & Figs, revered throughout New England for its phenomenal expressions of the region’s produce. Doves & Figs creates all of their products with sun-ripened fresh fruit grown on New England farms, pure cane sugar, and no added pectin or preservatives. They craft unique blends of fresh fruits with an array of herbs, spices, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, and spirits. Slowly simmered in small batches just like her father’s grape jam, Robin’s preserves taste like fruit touched by precious New England sunshine.
We are thrilled to offer Doves & Figs’ “Sparkle” recipe, a blueberry conserve with Meyer lemon and bits of candied ginger, as our June 2017 Featured Jam. While supplies last, the jam is available à la carte, as well as in recommended AB&J and PB&J pairings with our fresh-roasted nut butters. We especially love this jam in a PB&J ice cream sundae, which is the perfect dessert for summer entertaining (even if you are just entertaining yourself).