In the Kitchen with M. Greenwood Jams
New to the pantry, M. Greenwood jams are bringing an abundance of flavor to our cocktails, breakfasts, and beyond. Every jar of M. Greenwood jam is handmade in Los Angeles by mother-daughter duo Julie Mooney and Margaret Greenwood, using the West Coast's freshest produce to craft surprising and delicious seasonal flavors. Recently, Margaret took a break from the kitchen to chat with us about all things jam and share her favorite cocktail recipe-- jam included!
terrain: How did M. Greenwood get started?
Margaret: I’ve been helping my mom in the kitchen since I could stand on a stool to see what she was doing. I grew up in Illinois, and every fall we made apple butter with apples from my grandpa’s tree; the entire house smelled amazing for days afterwards. My grandmother made jam with all kinds of fruit, just as her own mother did-- canning was a part of everyday life back then. A couple of years ago, my mom handed me a jar of onion garlic marmalade she’d made. It was so delicious and unlike anything I’d tasted-- my husband and I ate it within two days! I said, “We need more of that stuff, please! We’ll even buy it from you!”
It slowly occurred to us that maybe other people were looking for something similar. A family friend signed us up for a local craft fair, so we made just over 200 jars of a few basic jams. People liked and bought them, and we just fell in love with people loving something we'd created from scratch, with our own hands, in our own kitchen.
terrain: You’re a mother/daughter team. What’s it like to work together, and what roles does each person take on?
Margaret: My mom is the head chef, though we formulate and taste all recipes together. We cook together at least twice a week, but my mom is cooking every day. I handle packaging and the business side of things-- making deliveries and shipping web orders, all of the paperwork, finances, and emails. Oh, the emails! I also hand-letter every label and gift box, and illustrate our signage for events. That’s definitely more fun! Like any family, we can get on each other’s nerves once in a while (especially in the heat of the kitchen), but it always passes quickly and we’re laughing again in no time-- usually over a snack that includes one of our jams.
terrain: How do you create new jam flavors? What’s the process of developing a new jam?
Margaret: We get inspiration from so many places, but usually we start at the farmers market. We see what’s in season and looks good, then start brainstorming combinations. We always have a few classic fruit jams, but we also love to mix things up, trying out unusual flavor pairings or experimenting with ingredients that we're really excited about. Sometimes we go a little too far-- a while back we made a batch of kumquat marmalade with black pepper and rosemary. It was interesting but wild, and definitely divided opinions!
terrain: Your jams start with local ingredients. How does living and working in LA influence your creations? Are there certain ingredients and growers that are unique to LA?
Margaret: Los Angeles plays an absolutely integral part in our business. We have such an abundance of produce here, almost too much, so when farmers have more of a particular crop than they can sell before it goes bad, jam is a perfect, sustainable solution. The Santa Monica Farmers Market is a constant source of wonder and inspiration, surely one of the best in the world. It’s the perfect place to spend a Wednesday morning and connect with local farmers. We're also able to grow our own herbs and Meyer lemons, and a lot of our citrus comes from friends and neighbors. It’s been a great way to connect more with our community.
terrain: What flavors are you most looking forward to for fall and winter?
Margaret: I always look forward to our cranberry jalapeño in the winter. It’s become a tradition, and adds a nice kick to the day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich. A baguette, leftover turkey, a little mayo, cranberry jalapeño jam, and arugula. Yum!
terrain: If you could choose one thing to put jam on, what would it be?
Margaret: Cheese, of course!
terrain: What are some favorite or unexpected ways to use your jams in cooking, baking, cocktails, etc?
Margaret: Until we starting making it, I had no idea you could use jam on so many things besides toast! Almost all of our jams can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks with a little creativity, and we love when our customers tell us how they’ve used jam in cooking. The spicy orange marmalade is particularly versatile-- with chicken, as a glaze for roasted vegetables, on a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg and crispy bacon, and of course in a grilled cheese. I also love it on top of an olive oil cake. The fig jam makes a great sauce substitute for pizza; just spread a layer on the dough, top with goat or blue cheese, bake for 15 minutes, then top with arugula and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I also love using jams in cocktails, because they bring so much more flavor than a simple syrup. I just made a whiskey cocktail that's perfect for cool weather:
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 heaping spoon of apricot jam (almost any fruit jam would work)
1 oz. of ginger beer
2 fat lemon wedges
4-6 mint leaves
Muddle mint and a lemon wedge in a shaker, then add jam and bourbon and stir. Add ice and shake hard. Strain over crushed ice and add ginger beer. Garnish with more mint and another lemon wedge.