Thursday, October 11th, 2012
The best things in life require a bit of effort. Like spending a week tracking down an off-the-grid jam-maker.
Waterhorse Ridge Jams aren’t your everyday sugary jellies and chutneys, but dreamy fusions of Thai dragon chile and peach, kumquats and cabernet grapes, or black cherries with ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Using fruits and vegetables grown on their 50-acre Cazadero ranch (or purchased from market friends) mixed with herbs, spices and liqueurs, Patricia Greer and her daughter Merlin have quietly been selling their homemade small-batch preserves in West County for several years. They joined the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farm Market in April, sparking the interests of several chefs and cafes.
But without a website, business card or easily Googled phone number (you can see it in the picture at right, however), you have to want to find them. “I’ve been canning for 40 years,” says Patricia Greer, who makes just a few dozen jars of each flavor–maybe 70 cases in total each month. “We’re really little, but our goal isn’t to make a ton of money. It’s just to be generous to our friends,” she says.
Using pectin and small amounts of organic sugar, the Greers make the 60 or so varieties of jams, preserves, chutneys and salsas the old-fashioned way. With a big pot and lots of produce. “Since I grow the fruit I get attached to it and I want people to actually taste it,” she says. The idea, in fact, is to just eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar. Which is not just a suggestion, but a bit of a hazard. We blew through two jars in a single night. Be especially cautious of Yellow Bird, a sunny yellow jar of tart fruit crack that’s a secret mixture of pineapple, orange, lemon, rum and several liqueurs best served over ice cream.
Flavors change with the seasons, and the recipes change with Greers’ whims. “I’m just inspired by each pot of fruit,” she says. Find Waterhorse Ridge on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Wells Fargo Center farm market.