Our monthly cheese subscription box features our favorite specialty cheeses and a rotating cast of delicious accompaniments—including small-batch jams, pickles, charcuterie, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about the fantastic American jam makers we’re featuring in our boxes!
Jam, Jelly, Preserves, Fruit Butter: What’s the Difference?
First, we need to answer a common question: What’s the difference between jam and jelly—and, for that matter, preserves and fruit butters? They’re all ways of preserving fruit in a jar for later use, but there are some differences in how they’re made and their finished texture that affects how we use them in the kitchen.
Jam is made with fruit that’s been cut up or mashed, then mixed with sugar, cooked until thickened, and jarred. Jelly, on the other hand, is made from fruit juice—it’s perfectly clear and smooth, with no fruit pieces or chunks.
Preserves, a more traditional way of canning fruit, are similar to jam, but they’re made with whole fruits (like whole strawberries) or large pieces of fruit (halved apricots, for example). Meanwhile, fruit butters are made with pureed fruit (any skins and seeds are strained out) that’s cooked low and slow over several hours and are usually made with a smaller amount of added sugar.
How to Pair Cheese and Jam
Fruit preserves tend to fit a couple of different profiles: bright and sweet (think apricot jam or lemon curd) or rich and mellow (think apple butter or fig jam). Both can cut through the creaminess and complement the savory flavors of a variety of cheeses, from soft, fresh varieties to pungent, long-aged wheels.
For younger, milder cheeses, we prefer sweet, tangy preserves, like strawberry jam with chevre or apricot preserves with Brie. Salty, robust wheels like blue and parmesan go well with dark, caramelized flavors like fig jam, while subtler aged wheels like Manchego are a classic combination with quince preserves.
How We Source Jams for Our Cheese Subscription Box
Over the years, we’ve tasted a lot of jam. For the new cheese subscription box, we knew we wanted to source jams from small-scale, independent producers who source fresh, high-quality fruit seasonally from producers in their region. There should be no preservatives or corn syrup, and the flavors and combinations should be unique and complementary to the diverse flavors in a great cheese board.
How Our New Cheese Subscription Box Program Works
Subscribe to receive a box of 3 curated American artisan cheeses each month, shipped right to your door. We recommend adding on artisan crackers and 3 accompanying gourmet goodies chosen to pair perfectly with your cheese—its like a tasting in a box!
We designed our cheese subscription to be flexible and easy to customize. The recurring payment option makes it budget-friendly, and you can let us know any cheese preferences and dietary needs you may have so that you can always enjoy everything your subscription has to offer. Sign up here!
The Best Jams to Serve With Cheese
After years of in-depth research, these independent, American-made jam brands are our favorites.
Lauded in publications like Bon Appetit, Eater, and the New York Times, BRINS incorporates global herbs and spices with fruits unique and traditional. The results include jams in flavors like blueberry sumac, cherry chai, and banana with whole bean vanilla.
Le Bon Magot
New York's Le Bon Magot features flavors in their preserves that are inspired by their culinary heritage and experiences in Africa, Middle East and South Asia. Their preserves are developed from heirloom recipes using natural ingredients, high-quality and seasonal produce, custom-blended aromatics and no preservatives. Balancing sweet, tart, and savory notes, we have discovered satiating cheese pairings like no other.
Happy Girl Kitchen
In addition to making tasty pickles, Happy Girl Kitchen captures sweet California sunshine in each jewellike jar. We’re excited for preserves featuring fruits like apricots, olallieberries, quince (a classic cheese pairing!), and Meyer lemon.
Rare Bird Preserves
Based in Illinois, this brand was founded by a former pastry chef and features preserves made the traditional way—in copper pots, also a traditional material for cheesemaking vats—using only fresh, local produce and natural ingredients. We’re pumped for preserves like fig Earl Grey jam and blackberry lime curd.
One of Cheese Grotto’s first ever public artisan cheese events in San Francisco featured INNA Jams—and the bike trailer founder Dafna Kory used to haul fruit from nearby trees, which really highlights how ultra-local these Bay Area jams are. Today, she’s still turning out single-origin jams featuring fruits like Albion strawberries, Obsidian blackberries, and Moro blood orange as well as uncommon options like rhubarb jam.
Frog Hollow Farm
This East Bay orchard-to-jar operation grows fruit using regenerative organic practices, with product made and packaged on premises. Their conserves feature farm-grown fruits like persimmons, nectarines, Seville oranges, plums, and apricots.
Quince & Apple
Based in cheese country, this Madison, Wisconsin jam maker specializes in balanced, not-too-sweet preserves. Varieties like raspberry rose, apples and cranberry, and fig and black tea are perfect for pairing with your favorite wedges.
What are your favorite jams to serve with cheese? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!