Artisans: On the road for a jam session

By Alexia Santamaria

Zino's Old Fashioned jams. Photo / Supplied
Zino's Old Fashioned jams. Photo / Supplied

It's a hard road finding a good jam. There are lots of jam makers about - one round every corner it seems - but the taste and quality vary enormously. There is a critical point with jam in the sugar/fruit balance and if you tip it too far it can taste like a lolly spread with fruit flavour rather than a fruit-based condiment. Then there are the ones which don't have enough chunks of fruit or have set too hard or where the sugar has crystallised. None of these are good options for pikelet, scone or even toast adornment.

Though not expert condiment makers, we're quite good at tasting and we found the lovely Donna Bradman from Zino's Old Fashioned Foods and her jams at Grey Lynn Farmers' Market. She started making them for sale a year ago when her husband was made redundant and she makes only a limited range but they are good. Chunky, with lots of fruit, not too super-sweet and perfect spreading consistency.

The feijoa jam is a must for any fans of the fruit (we know not everyone likes them) - strong feijoa taste and the perfect acid/sweet balance. The rhubarb jam is also very good.

It is mixed with banana and though that wasn't a concept that thrilled us in theory, it tastes great. The reason she uses the banana is that it means you can halve the amount of sugar you use, letting the natural tartness of the rhubarb shine through.

The orange and apricot marmalade is very interesting. It lacks the acute bitterness of a regular marmalade because Donna doesn't use any grapefruit. She does this as many people can't eat it because of the medication they take. We personally liked it but it would depend on how bitter you like your marmalade.

The lemon honey "walks off the shelf" every week, according to Donna - and we can see why. It is smooth and creamy with an underlying zing. We love her idea of mixing it with a bit of creme fraiche and spooning it into sweet pastry cases as a quick dessert.

There are no additives or preservatives in Zino's jams. Just fruit and sugar. She also does some great chutneys, mini-quiches and pate and has a good following of regular customers. With an Italian father, Donna definitely has a passion and a nose for good food. Try them for yourself.

Where to buy:

Markets for Zino's: Coatesville (first Sunday of month); Mt Eden (second Saturday of month); Grey Lynn (second and third Sunday); Birkenhead (third Saturday) and Blockhouse Bay (last Saturday).

- NZ Herald

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