What could be more punk rock than vine-ripened fruit, picked fresh from a local orchard? Not much, especially when it’s transformed, via traditional European methods, into Laena McCarthy and Liv Manifredi’s tumultuously tasty Anarchy in a Jar jams.
Years of berry-picking experience, say McCarthy and Manifredi, gave them a knack for knowing just when a fruit is at the peak of jam-ready ripeness. Hence, their ingredients essentially consist of fruit and sugar. “There’s something so pure about things in a jar,” says McCarthy, 30, a librarian.
Growing up in upstate New York she frequented pick-your-own berry farms and held family jam sessions. Manifredi, 28, is no stranger to local harvesting either, being raised in the Napa Valley. Returning from a recent trip home, she smuggled black mission figs back in her luggage, which became the basis of their Figalicious jam, a good example of their anarchist craftmaking ethos.
This fall, Anarchy in a Jar debuts at the new Saturday Greenpoint Food Market, and appears on the plates of restaurants like No. 7.
But the roommates-turned-business-partners are apprehensive about serious expansion: They’ll deliver jars by bike, plus their spontaneous, hand picked procedure renders each small batch all the more unique. Midnight Morello preserves, for example, feature rare Morello black sour cherries, and is named not only for their deep color, but for the midnight drive during which they toted 90 pounds back from Fix Brothers Farm in Hudson County.
When they’re not picking fruit, McCarthy and Manifredi host jamboree tasting events at their Fort Greene home: They invite friends to an open salon of snacking on new products, encouraging feedback through blind note cards. Consistencies range from loose and syrupy to whole-cherry chunky. Honey-colored white peach and rosewater jam is heady with stone fruit perfume. An overachieving blueberry jam is accented with maple syrup and lemon, a tart red raspberry with balsamic. But our favorite might be the Sugar Plum Fairy Preserves, kissed with Trockenbeerenauslese dessert wine. Who knew anarchy could be so sweet?