One of the newest specialty food businesses to hit the Hamptons scene is Hampton Jam Company. Hampton Jam Company’s current flavors include Blueberry, Apple & Tart Cherry, Strawberry Lemonade, and Blood Orange & Ginger Marmalade. My favorite was the Strawberry Lemonade, that pairs beautifully on top of Greek yogurt or a freshly baked croissant. It has an authentic taste of a tall glass of picnic-ready strawberry lemonade in the summer. Be creative with their jams! The Blood Orange & Ginger Marmalade was a pleasant accompaniment to grilled chicken, pork chops, and on top of baked meatballs.
I sat down with husband-and-wife team, Jessica Mackin-Cipro and Chef Joe Cipro, who began crafting their organic jams at home as a hobby. The spreads include only the basics: organic fruit, organic spices, organic sugar, and organic lemon. Chef Joe Cipro, a Maryland native and marketing graduate of Johnson & Wales culinary school, started his chef career at Della Femina Restaurant in East Hampton, where he worked as the sous chef at the East Hampton staple. After Della Femina closed in 2011, Joe continued to work as sous chef at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton and Little Red in Southampton, before becoming a full-time private chef in 2013.
How did the journey to creating jams begin?
Jessica: For me, creating jam began with my grandmother when I was a child when we would make beach plum jam. Last year Joe and I started making jam as holiday gifts for friends and family, and began creating our recipes.
Joe, tell me more about your experience working as a private chef.
Joe: Being a private chef has given me an opportunity to work on rounding out my culinary skills set. As a private chef I’ve been required to call upon my culinary school training in desserts, baking, and pastry. This was an area that prior to working privately I was not required to practice as often. While having the opportunity to hone and perfect techniques in these areas I found that I really had a knack for creating unique and exciting preserves using seasonal fruit that would otherwise have gone to waste. At one point I worked for a family on a lovely farm in the Hudson Valley who grew their own raspberries, currants, and apples. This is was a very inspirational experience.
Do you source any local ingredients?
Jessica: When in season we plan to source all of the ingredients that can be grown locally from organic farms on the East End.
What is the shelf life and best conditions for storing?
Joe: Shelf life is about a year. It’s best to keep in temperatures under 80 degrees.
Which Farmer’s Markets can we find you at? Will you sell online?
Jessica: Currently we will be at the the Havens Farmers Market on Shelter Island and the Hampton Bays Farmers Market this summer. We are not currently for sale online, but it’s something we would like to do in the future.
Tell me how your jams will be incorporated into the events, such as A Hamptons Happening in July, that you help to curate and fundraise.
Jessica: We will have a table at the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s “Hamptons Happening” this year. We will pair the jams with a variety of dishes. At the “Love Bites” event this winter we paired the jam with foie gras torchon, assorted cheeses, and angel food cake. We will probably do something similar to that again. We plan to do a lot of different events and tastings throughout the year.
What are your favorite recipes and dishes to incorporate the jams into?
Joe: The jams are great for incorporating into pastries or cakes. They’re also great to make smoothies or cocktails with. You can never go wrong with including jam on a cheese and charcuterie platter, which is perfect for entertaining. It also very nice along with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
Hampton Jam Company will officially launch in May 2016.