For many, there’s no correlation between mason bees and the tasty jams they enjoy on their toast or scones.
But according to Laura Klahre, bee rancher and owner of Blossom Meadow Farm, they’re essential to making her award-winning jams.
“Native bees are the backbone to agriculture,” she said.
Earlier this month, Klahre’s blueberry-Cara Cara orange jam won first place at the International Flavor Awards in Wisconsin. Blossom Meadow Farm has previously won second- and third-place awards, respectively, for its red raspberry-blood orange and red raspberry jams. It also won numerous ribbons at this year’s Riverhead Country Fair. The International Flavor Awards is “a premier culinary competition providing small to medium-sized businesses an opportunity to showcase their original products and be recognized for their talents,” according to its website.
Klahre released the new flavor of jam at the start of this year. She describes it as “a mocktail on toast.”
“Blueberry-Cara Cara orange jam is, of course, [made from] my blueberries,” she said. “Cara Cara orange is an offshoot of navel orange, so it’s a sweet orange, and so I added a bit of Angostura and orange bitters to play against [that] sweet.”
The idea for her award-winning recipe came to her during a recent family trip to Savannah, Georgia.
“We went to this really nice cocktail bar and the cocktail was delicious,” Klahre said. “Then I looked at [them] and I said, ‘Oh my goodness, what makes this cocktail are the bitters.”
Klahre founded Blossom Meadow Farm in 2009 but said she started “jamming” in 2018. Fruits grown at the farm include blueberries, strawberries, red raspberries, black raspberries and beach plums.
She said that using the organic fruit grown on her farm “really makes a difference” in her jams.
“That’s why we started an organic farm,” she said. “And also, of course, to show that the native bees made the jam [which] makes it more understandable to people. They’re like, ‘Oh, now I see how native bees fit into my life because I’m enjoying this jam.’ ”
Blossom Meadow now offers so many different types of jam that Klahre has created what she calls a Blind Jam-Tasting Kit, an idea she’s been working on for about two years.
The kit includes six numbered four-ounce Mason jars of jam, six cornstarch knives, a jam scorecard and instructions.
“It’s pretty much a game,” she said. “You open the first jam, and then you decide what the taste is [from] zero to 10, rate the tastes. Experts base all tastings on these concepts: fruit flavor, sweetness, tartness/acidity, texture, consistency/viscosity, aroma, complexity, aftertaste, balance and naturalness. So, people can have spirited discussions with their friends because everybody gets a scorecard about what they would rate that jam or jelly and then guess the fruit.”
Blind Jam Tasting Kits are expected to go on sale at Blossom Meadow Farm (31855 Main Road, Cutchogue) starting Oct. 20. They can also be ordered at blossommeadow.com for shipment anywhere in the U.S. The Market at 44 Front St. in Greenport also carries Klahre’s jams.