Preserves as they should be—with plenty of chunky fruit pieces. Photo by Melody Lan.
MELODY LAN is a member of THE NIBBLE editorial staff.
Elsa’s Story Preserves
Preserves for Sweet & Savory Dishes
CAPSULE REPORT: Elsa’s Story Preserves are all-natural and top-quality, with vivid fruit flavor. Imported from Nahariya, Israel (and kosher), the thick consistencies and underplayed sugar set them apart from most other lines. In attractive packaging that evokes the past and the present, this delicious line brings a sophisticated twist to comfort food.
When we wrote about Elsa’s Story’s sugar-free cookies several months ago, Elsa was a mysterious figure. Was she perhaps the grandmother of the owner of the company or her daughter who had inherited fabulous recipes? Perhaps she wasn’t a real person at all, but a gourmet Betty Crocker, invented as a marketing concept. In the end it didn’t matter: Elsa’s Story embodies a memory of old-fashioned baking and jam-making, from a time when things were more homemade (read better) than they are now. Elsa’s Story preserves are vivid in our minds and on our palates, following a run of forgettable fruit spreads and preserves.
Whether it’s Elsa or not, someone is picking wonderful fruit and turning it into very tasty preserves in the Israeli resort town of Nahariya. The star ingredient in the jar is fruit—50 percent of it as proclaimed on the jar—followed by sugar, lemon salt, and for two of the flavors (Apple & Cinnamon and Fig), pectin. This is a very high proportion of fruit to sugar; and as a result, the preserves are only 35 calories per tablespoon—not the typical 50 calories per tablespoon cited by the International Jelly and Preserve Association.
We have a particular prejudice against sugary jams, jellies and preserves: if what one taste first is sugar, not the fruit, it isn’t a good product. Sugar is much less expensive than fruit, and it also allows the producer to use cheaper (less ripe or otherwise lesser quality) fruit. Just add more sugar, and the customer will taste something sweet—a problem with much food that is acceptable to Americans. With Elsa’s Story Preserves, the ratio of fruit to sugar is just right. Most companies would never proudly put their ratio of sugar to fruit on the label!
Preserved For Your Pleasure
Each elegantly-crafted flavor has generous chunks of fruit, peel or juicy pulp. Elsa’s Story’s tale of six preserves includes:
- Apple & Cinnamon: Juicy pieces of apple are hugged by fragrant cinnamon—a true homemade apple pie of a preserve, slightly tart with a delicate sweetness.
- Citrus: A mouthwatering blend of tangy orange, pink grapefruit and lemon. Piquant citrus fruit flavor stands at the forefront.
- Fig: Sweet, plump, ripe figs are converted into preserves. A fig-lover’s delight: the natural fig flavor is distinctive (photo at right).
- Mandarin & Orange: Honey-like orange flavor delivers a rush of sweet citrus.
- Orange: Lightly-sugared orange rinds emit a zesty sweet citrus tang with prominent orange essences.
- Pink Grapefruit: This flavor is like eating pink grapefruit pulp, sweetened with sugar. Delicate, yet substantial in flavor, it’s our favorite of the collection.
Enjoy your preserves with these breakfasts and brunches. The review continues below.
|Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant, by Marc Meyer and Peter Meehan. If you can’t get to Manhattan’s popular Five Points restaurant, you can still enjoy brunch, with this delicious book. Ricotta cheese pancakes, waffles with rhubarb compote and sweet potato hash will make brunch at your house the hot event in town. Click here for more information.
||The Big Book of Breakfast:
Serious Comfort Food for Any
Time of the Day, by Maryana
Vollstedt. Basic recipes plus
highly original and creative ones, including Green Eggs and Ham. Readers love the “stress-free recipes” and one states that the recipe for Shrimp and Artichoke Strata alone is worth the price of
the book. Click here for more information.
|Breakfast and Brunches, by Culinary Institute of America. The professionals who train some of the best chefs in the country present excellent, easy-to-follow recipes, from the traditional to the very modern, with exquisite photos to match. Whether you feel like serving sticky buns, palmiers with prosciutto or watercress sandwiches, you’ll find it here. Click here for more information.
These fruit preserves are so delicious that we find ourselves dipping in for a spoonful when we’re looking for a sweet fix, instead of a piece of candy. The consistency of the preserves is like chunky stewed fruit in a delicate syrup. This makes them excellent as an accent for toast, croissants, scones and brioche, but also an ingredient to convert into a sweet sauce. They can be used as:
- A condiment for cheeses (especially the fig preserve)
- A topping on fresh fruit salad, yogurt parfaits, ice cream or sorbet
- A filling for thumbprint cookies or layer cakes
- A condiment for pork medallions
Long before the invention of Mason jars and screw-top metal lids, jam-makers sealedcontainers with a flat piece of tin held in place by hot wax. After opening, the wax was not reusable, so the mouth of the jars would be covered with scraps of cloth, like gingham or muslin, and tied with string around the neck to keep out dust and critters. Some modern companies have put a cloth cover over the metal cap to evoke old-fashioned goodness.
Elsa’s Story uses a charming glass jar that enables the gorgeous colors of each fruit preserve to glow through. There are tiny vestigial handles at the top, reminiscent of amphorae; and a paper version of the decorative cloth cloaks a classic metal cap underneath. Printed on the paper is a photo of the elusive (or alleged) Elsa and her family enjoying a day at the beach; they’ll be returning home shortly, no doubt, for some home-baked cookies, scones and preserves.
For less than six-dollars, here is not only a stellar-quality condiment, but a nice hostess gift or stocking-stuffer. Whether you serve them during breakfast, at a tea party or integrated into dinner or dessert, these preserves will be a story told time and again.
Fruit Preserves in Apple & Cinnamon, Citrus, Fig, Mandarin & Orange, Orange, Pink Grapefruit
Certified Kosher by Rabbinate Zichron Yacov
- 11.28-Ounce Jar
Suggested Retail Price
Purchase at Straubs.com
Available at specialty stores
For more information, visit ElsaStory.com.
Share the wealth: a trio of Elsa’s Story preserves makes a great gift anytime, all year long.
Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.