To me, summer means one thing: fruit. Baskets of cherries, plums, nectarines, and peaches fill my countertop, and I eat them until the last crate arrives at the local farmer's market. I am especially fond of nectarines: none of the fuzz of the peach but all of the sweet fruit. And nectarines are even better when they're transformed into a jar of jam. A spoonful of nectarine jam on a slice of fresh bread is all I need to start a summer morning. And there is only one brand of jam in my 'fridge: Frog Hollow Farm. Made from perfectly ripe fruit and just a dash of sugar, this slightly tart, rust-colored conserve is sublime. (The terms conserve, preserve, and jam are used interchangeably these days; they are essentially the same thing - whole fruit cooked with sugar. Jelly, however, is made only from the juice of the fruit.)
Frog Hollow is a 133-acre family farm located an hour from San Francisco in the Delta region, and they're known for their 25 varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries, among other fruit. Owner "Farmer Al” Courchesne and wife Becky are celebrating their 21st year of organic farming. And with one bite of a juicy Frog Hollow plum, peach, or nectarine, you'll see why the local chefs--including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse--flock here to source fruit for their restaurants. Al and Becky are devoted to their land and their crop, and to me that's a comforting thought in these days of mega-agriculture.
Look for the conserve in select Whole Foods markets, at farmers markets in Northern California, or order online directly from the farm. (And if you're traveling to San Francisco, stop by their stand at the Ferry Building for a cup of coffee and a peach galette bursting with sweet fruit and wrapped in a buttery crust; it will make you weep with joy.)