It’s just raspberries man!
I write this, hopefully, as the first official review of a Just Raspberries, LLC jam after receiving their Commercial Processing License. Receipt of which allows them to sell their great products to Maryland and the rest of the world.
Just Raspberries CEO and Unexpected Farmgirl, Erika Forsythe, has been making raspberry jam for a year now. They just don’t make any old raspberry jam, Just Raspberries is an artisanal jam. Erika offers an assortment of flavors, pairing raspberries with other ingredients spanning balsamic vinegar to hot habaneros. When I discovered that Erika was curating raspberry jam flavors at her home a year ago, my curiosity was peaked because I have an affinity for the stuff.
You see, I am a jam snob. Grape jelly is too pedestrian for my PB&J, and many jellies are clumpy which produce an unsophisticated mouth feel. Smuckers is good, but when I really want jam, I’ll choose Bonne Maman Preserves over Polaner products. Most supermarket jellies and jams are either too sweet, too thick, or flavorless. After sampling a few flavors in her Salisbury home, I became an instant fan. Just Raspberries grows their own raspberries on the Maryland Eastern Shore and began making jam after observing how great their raspberries were turning out. Part chemist, part farm girl she told me how she started jamming, “I started making jam once my business became an LLC in 2015 and I discovered that the raspberries I grow on our farm are an exceptional ingredient for creating artisan jam with distinctive flavors.” Since that time in the Forsythe’s Salisbury home, I have become a beta taster for Just Raspberries and had the privilege of sampling Raspberry Balsamic, Tarragon, and Hot Habanero jams. All winners, and all delicious.
A couple of weeks ago, her son delivered her latest craft to me, Raspberry Sunshine, with a hand written note requesting, “let me know how it tastes.” I kept the stuff hidden for a week. You see, my 7 year old can eat a whole jar of the stuff in one sitting. So it sat idle, buried in the pantry, unopened. On Facebook, “how come you haven’t opened it yet?” she asked. I responded, “because once I eat it, I won’t have it anymore.”
Dear reader, if you’re looking for a bright start in the morning, it needs to start with Raspberry Sunshine. Raspberry Sunshine is bright, tangy, and sweet all at once. The ingredients on the label states: sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest, but in reality it includes high spirits, happy thoughts, and a productive day. Sunshine plays a delightful note on the tongue when eaten by itself. You know the raspberries are there, but the lemon zest and juice provide a balance to the sweetness of the raspberries and sugar that cuts the overall feel on your tongue. Supermarket jams are heavy handed with pectin and can leave a coating on your tongue. Sunshine only leaves its flavor behind. I’m not a child, and therefore I decided to not spoon out the whole jar. I ate Sunshine breakfast style on toast and a bagel.
Standard whole wheat bread was toasted at medium burn and I paired Sunshine with Kerrygold salted butter. A high quality product like Raspberry Sunshine deserves a high quality butter. For the bagel, I spread the jam on top of whipped Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
When I get Kerrygold, I prefer the salted version, and the creaminess of the butter meshed perfectly with the zesty sweetness of Raspberry Sunshine. The flavors just worked! Raspberries already possess a degree of tartness, but the sugar and citrus add a degree of brightness you can’t taste in many places. For something simple, like butter and jam on toast, you’d think you’re having breakfast with the queen if Raspberry Sunshine is on your table.
Like many people, I prefer cream cheese on my bagel. Here’s where a little and a little go a long way. I’ve paired Just Raspberries’ jam with brie and other cheeses, but cream cheese was a first. Cream cheese has a fairly delicate flavor, and isn’t earthy like an artisanal cheese. It would be easy to over power the cheese and create one of those ungodly fruit mixtures you can buy from the supermarket. Sunshine really shows its versatility here. It doesn’t overwhelm other flavors. It chooses to complement and delight. Here again the creaminess of the cream cheese comes through while the jam enhances the experience. The pairing hits the right parts of the tongue and is wonderful. I have had those mixtures of raspberry syrup and cream cheese, and there is no comparison to the flavor Sunshine adds to cream cheese. Panera needs to be offering Raspberry Sunshine and Philadelphia Cream Cheese for its Cinnamon Crunch Bagel!
Raspberry Sunshine truly delivers. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you should start it this way.
Just Raspberries plans to launch their online store in the summer of 2016.