This is not your grandma’s jam! This is the jam of former First Lady of New York State, Silda Wall Spitzer, whose love of jam-making morphed into sharing her delicious jam with the Hudson Valley and beyond when she created Silda’s Jam. We were able to catch up with her recently and talk no more about her jam venture and adventures.
What is Silda’s Jam, how did it start, who is Silda, and why jam?
Silda’s Jam offers an assortment of bright and flavorful preserves. I, Silda Wall Spitzer, am the former First Lady of New York State and co-founder of New York Makers. I grew up in North Carolina before moving to New York. My parents and grandparents (who were hard-working, resourceful, and close-knit) would spend time together harvesting and canning and that is where my love of jam-making started.
Later in life, I echoed this tradition with my own family, making delicious homemade jams with berries or peaches from my orchard or neighboring farms in the Hudson Valley to give to loved ones during the holidays. One major difference: I replaced granulated sugar with New York State maple syrup. I also used natural fruit pectin, making the jam vegan.
I worked with Amanda DiRobella at New York Makers. As the former editor in chief, Amanda was always looking for ways to connect with the maker community. Upon visiting me during the holidays, Amanda was intrigued by the hundreds of jars of “Silda’s Jam” being prepped to send as gifts to friends and family, one of which Amanda received as a gift. Upon tasting it, Amanda declared, “This is the best jam I’ve ever had!” I let her in on the special ingredients, and Amanda exclaimed, “We need to be making and selling this – it’s delicious!” Here we are years later.
Silda’s Jam grew out of a great product but also out of our work with New York Makers and wanting to experience being makers ourselves. We continue to give back to the statewide New York maker community, among other ways, by working with COARC Manufacturing. COARC is the Columbia County Chapter of the Arc New York, “the largest family-based provider of services to people experiencing disabilities in the United States.” Its manufacturing enterprise provides jobs and training for people with special abilities.
What did those first days of Silda’s Jam look like?
Amanda and I made the first official Silda’s Jam batch on May 15, 2018 at Hot Bread Kitchen in NYC, working late at night when kitchen rates were lowest. Then, we made jam out of a commercial kitchen in Columbia County. We had labels designed, and we affixed them ourselves. When demand got too big for the two of us, we shifted production to BFK in Old Chatham, NY.
What is the process?
The process is straightforward: The fruit, lemon juice, and any spices or herbs go in a large pot and are brought to a boil with frequent, gentle stirring that respects the fruit. The maple syrup and fruit pectin are then added and the mixture returned to a boil with more stirring. The jam is then placed into sterile jars, capped, and placed in a hot water bath for at least 15 minutes.
What flavors does it come in?
Our flavors are distinctive: gingerbread peach, blaspberry (blackberries and raspberries), blueberry elderflower, blackberry lemon lavender, lavender peach, black + blue (blackberries and blueberries), cherry pie, strawberry, strawberry lemon lavender, strawberry rhubarb, and red + blue (strawberries and blueberries).
What makes your jam unique and different from others?
Our jams always start with whole berries and fruit (sliced of course!) as all jams should, then we use maple syrup for its distinctive flavor and possible health benefits and fruit pectin, which allows our jam to be vegan.
Our flavors are also fun and special. Sometimes they are unexpected berry and fruit combinations, such as black + blue (blackberry and blueberry) or blaspberry (blackberry and raspberry). Sometimes herbs, spices, or other flavors are added in just the right mouth-watering amount to heighten and enhance the jam essence, such as cherry pie, which contains mainly cherries and spices.
How did you decide on the name, branding, and jars?
The name eponymously references me, their creator. The branding is a mix of barn with a hint of modern – the vibe of much of the Hudson Valley. Each jar sold online or in specialty stores has its own wooden spoon attached by twine, which transforms it from a condiment to a gift. Current jars are nine ounces, with a possible seven-ounce size in the works.
Where can people buy it?
Our jams are sold on our website and in specialty stores listed on the website, including many in the Hudson Valley and New York.
Can you recommend some jam-pairings for us?
Our all-time favorite is granola, plain yogurt, and a couple spoonfuls of any flavor of Silda’s Jam. One unexpectedly delicious snack is sour-dough toast spread with Silda’s strawberry jam and topped with banana slices.
What are other creative uses for Silda’s Jam?
On the elegantly delicious side, we have made a beautiful pavlova topped with blackberries and raspberries and Silda’s blaspberry jam. Another surprisingly delicious idea is adding a dollop of Silda’s blackberry lemon lavender to your mojito. Take it to the next level. Ideas and recipes can be found on our website at sildasjam.com/blogs/news/discover-sildas-jam-stories
What is your process to create a jam flavor?
We enjoy flavors that taste super delicious first and foremost, just different enough to make your taste buds curious. We love to experiment with home batches and holiday jams. Summer favorites include black + blue (blackberries and blueberries) and strawberry lemon lavender. We have recipes for both of these on our website, too!
What does the future hold for Silda’s Jam?
We are excited about a jam-tastic future of more people discovering Silda’s Jam and creating new delicious flavors and ways to enjoy jam! •
To learn more about Silda’s Jam, to order directly, or to find local locations where you can purchase, please visit sildasjam.com.