"Try us on toast,” reads Deluxe Foods’ preserve jars. But how about the spiced plum jam stirred into your tea, Russian style, or shaken in a gin cocktail? What about the pear butter with vanilla mixed in with steel-cut oats? Deluxe Foods’ Rebecca Staffel has a long list of uses for her award-winning preserves, and toast is only the beginning.
After five years as a literary agent for cookbook authors and editor of the Amazon kitchen store, Staffel desired to be, as she says, a “producer, not a parasite” and turned her hobby of making jam into a full-time business in 2010. In her cozy kitchen space in east Green Lake, she wears a cheery blue apron and bustles among tall stacks of crated peaches, metal bowls of quinces and fragrant rhubarb simmering on her stove’s six burners. Nearby, a slim red notebook is the keeper of Staffel’s sweet and savory recipes, blends of local fruits, spices, herbs and liquors with her sweetener of choice, organic evaporated cane juice sugar. Finding the perfect balance is, in her words, often a matter of “alchemy and magic.”
Staffel overflows with enthusiasm for her local fruit providers. She loves Yakima Valley–based Tonnemaker Hill Farm’s peaches in her peach preserves with vanilla and bourbon (smoky-sweet and begged for by pork chops and pound cake alike), and for her apricot jam, she uses Le Crème apricots, a rare variety from Harmony Orchards, also in the Yakima Valley.
Another favorite is the Blueberry Hemingway jam—both literary and boozy. It gives a wink to the writer’s predilection for Cuban cocktails with a little kick of rum to finish the tangy lime and mellow blueberries.
New flavors include apple chutney, released in the fall, and milk jam, caramelized milk blended with vanilla bean and sugar (perfect in coffee), due out later this winter.
Find Deluxe Foods preserves ($12) at local gourmet markets such as Picnic (Phinney Ridge), Sugarpill (Capitol Hill); the Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday; and online at shop.deluxe-foods.com.