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Anarchy in a Jar

Laena McCarthy and her mom used to jam in Woodstock.

The two would grab fruit and herbs from the backyard, hit a nearby farm for what they didn’t grow themselves and create a concert in the kitchen.

Laena soaked it all up and now has turned professional “Jamarchist.” When she’s not working as a professor and librarian at Pratt, you’ll find her boiling and jarring local, seasonal fruits, adding only enough sugar to preserve and bring out the best flavor. Or maybe you’ll spot her riding around Brooklyn, New York on a bicycle named Bluebell, delivering her eclectic blends to restaurants and shops that love to jam, too.

And, just to clarify, since we’ve always been a little confused about this: Jam is made with fruit pulp or chunks and sugar. Jelly uses juice (no pulp). Marmalade is citrus-based with pieces of the fruit suspended. Conserves are jams made with mixtures of fruits and nuts. Got it?

Laena finds jam-making therapeutic. As she’s said, “It’s fun to cook something down, and to play with fruit. It’s very simple as well, with simple ingredients. Also, it’s endless – you can have endless flavor combinations and endless experimentations with different fruits and how they mix together. What I find fun is the discovery of constantly coming up with new recipes and finding new ways to experiment; it keeps it interesting for me.”

Keep your shrink, though – just buy some Anarchy.

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