By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Homemade jams are a longtime staple of the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. These treats – made from fruits grown and harvested spring through fall – gleam like jewels in glass jars. They are rich in fruit flavor, and thick with sweetness. They fill holiday stockings, they sit on breakfast tables, and they work great in holiday recipes.
Two vendors – Laurie Kokinda of Kokinda Farm and Anna Mae Clark of Clark’s Dahlia Gardens & Greenhouses – offer jam. For both, jam-making runs in the family.
“My mother taught me how to make jam as a young child,” says Kokinda. “We would go picking fruit at ‘pick your own’ farms and gather wild huckleberries in Luther’s Forest.”
“Then,” Kokinda recalls, “as a teen, I started making it by myself.” Her mother had had a horse accident and had broken her wrist.
Kokinda joined the farmers’ market in 1997. Since then, she has sold jam under the name of Laurie’s Jams, alongside produce, eggs, and handmade items.
She makes jam once a week, in between driving a school bus and caring for horses, chickens and dogs. She grows raspberries, currants, gooseberries, blackberries, apples, pears, rhubarb and grapes. She obtains other fruits such as cherries, plums, blueberries, and apricots from other local growers. Of particular pride is her favorite, peach jam, made from peaches from her own trees.
Clark was a Saratoga Farmers’ Market vendor when the market started in 1978. She began selling jam around 1998 when, she recalls, she had “a freezer filled with fruit that wasn’t being used.” But she has made jam for 50 years. She inherited the tradition from her mother and grandmothers. “We all made jam,” says Clark. “We had to at the farm, or you wouldn’t have any.”
Clark perfected her jam-making through 4-H and Cornell Cooperative Extension classes. She grows most of her fruit, though relies on others for products she cannot grow herself such as oranges and cranberries. She goes through a pallet of sugar a year. Jams, insists Clark, need sugar. Sugar brings out a fruit’s flavor in a way that other sweeteners cannot.
Many of Anna Mae Clark’s recipes come from her mother and grandmothers. They create “older flavors” that people enjoy, and can’t always find outside of farmers’ markets.
The Saratoga Farmers Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on the FreshFoodNY app.