It’s an overcast morning on a rooftop in the West Village, and two friends are planning the day ahead. Sabrina Valle and Jessica Quon will hop on their “jam-mobile” and drive to Long Island City to pick up 20 lbs. of apricots. This will be the day’s batch of fruit to be cooked, jarred and sealed in the hours of jam-making that await.
“I’m the peeler, Jess is the chopper,” said Valle, all smiles and 26, with a small airplane tattoo on one arm and a feather in her wavy hair. Valle is referring to Quon, her best friend and business partner in The Jam Stand, a jam-making business that the ladies founded last October. In a Williamsburg kitchen, these former baking buddies create “experimental jams and spreads” and combine ingredients like raspberry and jalapeño, pineapple and cilantro, bananas and rum.
“They’re just flavors that we like,” said Quon, 25, a fresh faced and petite Las Vegas native. These young marketeers from the University of Florida find flavor ideas for their jams in everything around them.
Last summer, the ladies traveled through Central and South America. Quon was filming and editing for a non-profit at the time, while Valle had just quit her fashion-marketing job, unsure of what she wanted to do next. Valle recalled visiting family in Ecuador, and eating jams made out of local fruit, straight from the kitchen, never canned.
“A lot of flavor inspiration we just kind of pull from different places,” said Valle who relies on their love of travel, as well as friends and family for flavor ideas. The Razzy Gabby that pairs tangy raspberries with the sharp heat of jalapeños was named after their friend Gabrielle. A cocktail from a local restaurant inspired a strawberry basil summer concoction, while their Blueberry Bourbon jam captures in spreadable form the blueberry coffee cake Valle recently tasted in San Francisco.
The whole idea started as a joke. She told Quon one afternoon last year “Let’s just make some jam, you know.” So they made peach jam.
They now spend their time “jamming” (har har) in the kitchen, as well as working on partnerships, using social media, thinking of new flavors.
“And here we are, with feathers in our hair,” said Valle.
Saturdays at The Hester Street Fair
New York, NY 10002
Sundays at Artists & Fleas Market
70 N. 7th Street (between Wythe and Kent)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Karina Taveras is a cook who loves to write and a writer who loves to cook (with sazón!). Her stories have appeared in Saveur magazine, Islands magazine and the NY Daily News. She’s the Publisher and Executive Editor of Latinfoodie, a bilingual blog about food and travel. Her earliest food memory includes pairing saltines and condensed milk to fuel an afternoon of hopscotch in the yard. She lives in NYC with her husband and dreams of living by the sea.