Elizabeth Madden started making jam during pastry school in France. She then worked for two years at Charlie Trotter's quick-service restaurant, Trotter's To-Go. He's known for his perfectionist tendencies and attention to detail. Elizabeth was clearly paying attention; her small-batch jams and curds hit all the right notes.
She only uses fruits and herbs grown in the Chicago area, and they're usually picked the day they're turned into jam. She also does things the French way, letting the fruit macerate with sugar, then cooking it down in copper pots. But it's her fantastically creative flavors that make her a "rare bird." From tropical passionfruit curd that tastes like a vacation in a spoon to her caramel apple preserves (instant Tarte Tatin!), these are best eaten with a spoon. No accompaniments necessary.