What if you could capture the most exquisite autumn day and put it in a jar: the blue sky, the crisp air, the scent of crushed leaves, all the sweet, tender lusciousness that’s been ripening on the tree for months and months through the long days of summer? Inside every piece of fruit is contained the story of the day it was picked, perfectly ripe and bursting forth with a story of all the days it hung on the branch or the vine. Stephanie McClenny spends her days telling this story, making small-batch artisanal jam from traditional French recipes and locally-sourced fruit from Texas that tastes like heaven. She joins us today to share tales of inspiration from the jam-making kitchen.
*photography by Thomas Winslow
Tell us about the journey that led you to Confituras.
Confituras was born out of a love of cooking and preserving. What initially began as a hobby quickly turned into an obsession. My pantry at home swelled with the abundance of jars I produced after only one season of preserving – I found it to be a great creative outlet as well as something very practical. I felt that others would appreciate that as well, and we are lucky enough to have them support us at the farmers’ market each week.
Favorite winter fruit/veggie: Anything citrus – I have always been a citrus girl, even prefer it over chocolate!
Tell us about the products you make:
We make our preserves seasonally, meaning we only preserve using fruit that is currently in season. Although we would love to make strawberry jam year round, we wait until spring when the berries are in season in our area. When folks hear that these are ‘our strawberries’ in the jar they’re holding, they understand why it is special.
What do you love about making food?
I enjoy the daily ritual of cooking – I feel that it keeps me grounded. The majority of the time my hands are touching something that comes from the earth, rather than something that is manmade or virtual, and it’s changed the way I view the world around me. I love the direct communication with my customers I’m afforded by working at the farmers’ market: it’s important to me to hear the preserving stories of our customers, whether it’s the jar of peach jam their grandmother made that they can’t seem to toss, or the hours they spent helping to do preserving prep while the adults handled the pressure canner safely in the distance. The feedback is immediate and rewarding!
What inspires you?
Folks who are obsessed with quality and producing seasonally. We are fortunate to have spent the last three years producing our preserves in the same kitchen as Dai Due. Jesse Griffiths along with his chefs Tabatha Stephens and Morgan Angelone, have helped shape our ethos of production: we use local fruit and other products, we produce seasonally, we attempt to support local family farms and other local businesses equitably.
Favorite jam pairing?
This time of year I love our cranberry jalapeno jelly with a bit of fresh chevre or cream cheese – it’s a holiday favorite!
What are you cooking this week?
We are planning lighter meals this week due to the overindulgence of Thanksgiving. We are stocking up on greens, butternut squash, and carrots to stew and roast over the coming days.
Favorite food indulgence:
Baguette slathered with pure unsalted butter, then duck liver mousse pate, then jam.
Favorite market finds at the moment:
We are in love with the organic tangerines from Orange Blossom Farms available at the market now – they are a dose of sunshine when it starts getting cold and dreary. We are also enamored with the goat milk soaps from Springfield Farm – such a great product and a sweet family, too.
Favorite comfort food:
My mother’s lasagna.
My most prized possession is a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child which was given to me by my stepmother out of her own collection. My most used and well-worn cookbooks are The Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy, The Cuisine of the Rose and The Cuisine of the Sun by Mireille Johnston, and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Oh, and I also own over 30 books about preserving that I look at daily!
I love to top the last bit of jam in the jar with Greek yogurt and a bit of granola.
Kitchen Inspiration :: Cranberry Cinnamon Jam Thumbprint Cookies
December is all about cookies at our house, and this recipe has been one of my favorites from childhood, evoking warm holiday memories and offering the newfound joy of making them with my own children. There’s something sweetly innocent, buttery, and comforting about jam thumbprints–not too sweet, perfect for eating in front of the fire with a big glass of milk. They’re pretty too, and can be filled with anything from lemon curd to Nutella, although these with Cranberry Cinnamon Jam from Confituras were special favorites.
Click here to download Elizabeth’s Cranberry Cinnamon Jam Thumbprint Cookies
See more of Elizabeth’s work at Making Groceries
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I love Confituras and am so happy you profiled them! I buy it when I’m in Austin and when I’m not have it shipped to me California.
It’s salted caramel pear butter season!
I need to order this!!
Love her answers to these questions.
I’m also a citrus girl and cooking truly is grounding in the best way
x atelier zozo
Thank you! I agree–I’m especially grateful for opportunities to get in the kitchen during the crazy holiday season!