Christine Allison never liked jam.
There’s nothing more boring than a piece of dry toast with some grocery store jam slapped on top, she says, and that initial aversion kept her from ever really using a jam, jelly or marmalade in the kitchen for most of her adult life.
Until now, of course.
These days, Allison’s life revolves around the sweet, fresh flavors of jams like Blueberry Lemon, Strawberry Lime and Apple Pie. She’s constantly tasting, innovating and recreating the centuries-old food and selling her unique creations under the Plympton-based brand Jammed with Love.
It started like many things do − with a wedding. Allison first made a few small, 4-ounce jars of her Apple Pie jam to hand out as favors at her September 2017 wedding. It was a new venture for her, but she liked the idea of a homemade, edible gift and loved the result. The next year, she was pregnant with her first child and knee-deep in a stressful banking job when her husband said a few magic words, “Just make jam.”
“I started going to markets, poking about, contacting his family and mine for any and all recipes,” Allison said. “Then, it was trial and error, taste testing and we got here. … A couple of the recipes we’ve come up with, some are spinoffs, some are passed down. I just can’t stop.”
She started with the signature flavors of Apple Pie and Blueberry Lemon before getting more and more creative with options like Carrot Cake − made with carrot, pear, molasses and nutmeg − and Boston Bar Fight, which includes blueberries, blackberries, jalapeño and whiskey.
“It has a huge berry flavor and a kick at the end,” Allison said. “If I was going to do jam, I needed to make it fun and explore flavors that are different. My husband will submit an idea, I’ll throw some out and I’ll spend a few weeks getting it together before taking it to my neighbors as taste testers. They’re brutally honest.”
Jammed with Love has seasonal offerings − Allison made a Winter Cranberry conserve this year with chunks of apple, apricot and walnuts − and a few other items like Nana’s Hot Mustard, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and a Sweet Relish Spread. There are usually more than a dozen flavors available at any one time, all made in Allison’s Plympton home. She can make about 16 8-ounce jars in a single batch, and she spends three days per week making the product with hand-chosen produce and a system she’s perfected over the years.
“Everyone loves the flavor, but they also like the consistency,” Allison said. “I use a really high quality pectin (as a binding agent), and I don’t put in a ton of sugar. It’s smooth, it’s not grainy, and you can really taste the fruit. It’s not just a mouthful of sweet. You can taste all of the different flavor levels.”
As a reformed jam hater, Allison said she’s on a mission to “educate the world on all the different ways it can be used. Toast isn’t the end all be all.” Each jar comes with a list of recommended uses, including marinades, dips, desserts and other ideas.
Allison never thought she’d be the owner of a homemade jam company, she said, let alone the manager of an online store, shipping guru, canning expert and all of the other hats she wears on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, she’s still the person she was when she started: a foodie.
“I could talk about food all day, and I do. I love it,” she said. “Everybody has it in common. Everybody can tell you a story about food. It’s really come full circle.”
Jammed with Love products can be found at Holmstead Harvest in West Bridgewater, Mayflower Mercantile in Plymouth, The Bougie Barn in Hanson and at jammedwithlove.com. Full-sized jars are $8 and mini jars are $4.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.