For the love of jam | October 23, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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Community - October 23, 2019

For the love of jam

Sharon Heights woman preserves exotic fruit at French-style home jam business

by Kate Bradshaw

When Lin Howery was growing up, her family never bought jam — they always made it, she says. Now, the Menlo Park resident is hoping you'll buy hers.

Owner of the gourmet jam business, J'aime Confiture, the Sharon Heights resident said she could never find the right jam in the market.

"It was always too sweet," she said. "I prefer that my kids get something healthier."

The hobby turned into a business idea three years ago as Howery began giving out a specialty tomato jam she makes to her friends. It wasn't something that could be found easily outside of gourmet food shops, and a few friends recommended that she make some to sell, she explained.

So she and a friend in 2016 approached the Filoli Historic House & Garden about the possibility of selling some jam at its holiday garden show. Filoli offered to sell her wares even sooner at one of its fall events, so they sprang to work creating a business and working with the San Mateo County health department to meet all the requirements to do so.

In less than an hour at the fall Filoli event, she said, the 60 jars she'd brought had sold out.

"We thought, 'OK, we have a business then,'" she said.

Later on, a friend put in an order for corporate gifts, which expanded the business further, she added.

This year, they're expanding with events and placement in Peninsula shops like the Filoli gift shop and a couple of boutiques in San Francisco, she said. They just got a permit to sell the jams in stores, she added, and are hoping to have them available by the holiday season.

The business name, she explains, incorporates some clever wordplay. J'aime Confiture, in French, means "I love jam." The word "jam" itself has an apocryphal French etymology story. As Howery tells it, during the 13th century, the French brought jam to England. In the royal court, French teachers would reward their students with jam, the candy of the day, to which the kids would say, "j'aime," or "I love."

With a cottage food operations permit, Howery uses her home kitchen for all of her preserving work.

"It's a little challenging to have a business at home," she admitted, adding, "At the moment it's worked for me. ... managing my time like this is best in my situation (as a mother)."

Her kids' favorite flavor? Strawberry, she said.

"You can see the actual fruit in it," she said.

Contrary to what some believe, she said, jam is much more versatile than one of the two critical fillings of a PB&J sandwich. For instance, she uses her more savory tomato jam as a salad dressing or condiment with steak or cold cuts.

She's developed uncommon jam flavors, such as kiwi lemon or cedrat, on her own, asking friends for recommendations and hosting tasting events with samples to have them test her creations before they make their way to market.

Beyond the French business name, she incorporates French jam-making techniques, prioritizing high-quality fruits and skipping ingredients like pectin and preservatives. They're not overcooked, so they retain their body and color.

"There's no cheating. It's pure fruit and sugar," said her husband, Raf Howery.

Lin Howery said she doesn't skimp on presentation in packing her jams either, focusing on elegant packaging. She generally offers 6-ounce jars topped with a trinket for between $18 and $25 each, as well as boxed sets.

The most popular product is the chocolate raspberry flavor, followed by strawberry, she added. She also tends to sell out of the persimmon orange flavor quickly.

Learn more about J'aime Confiture or place an order at jaimeconfiture.com.

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