After a lifetime of watching her mother make jams, chutneys, and pickles, Katie Rose Isaacson finally canned her first plums. That was a little more than a year ago, and now her Katie Rose Cannery is a fledgling adventure in preservation: that of both her family’s ranch history and delicious jams, fruit butters, jellies, and syrups. “As a child, I was often handed a wooden spoon and told to keep the jam from burning,” says Isaacson. “I’d stand on a chair, stirring bubbling pots of jam while my mother continued to peel and chop fruit.”
Today, her collection of old family recipes and her commitment to heirloom fruit is the foundation for her success. In summer and fall, she stocks up on ingredients from her grandparents’ ranch in the San Julian Valley. “I race the birds to save every last apple, plum, and persimmon,” she says. Katie Rose Cannery is steeped in tradition, and Isaacson’s core values include keeping it local. She sources organic sugar and jars through Isla Vista Food Co-Op and buys organic lemons from Calimoya in Goleta.
But most importantly, it’s her commitment to community that drives her passion for canning and preserving. “Around the holidays in our little valley, jars of jam appear on a doorstep or windowsill, each an original recipe from a neighbor who picked the fruit from their own tree and stood over a hot stove,” says Isaacson. “This is the craft and tradition that I want to bring to my customers.”
Featured Recipe: Apple Lemon Jam
12 cups Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
6 to 7 cups of sugar
Use a carrot peeler to peel the lemons. Chop the lemon peel into half-inch sections. Juice the lemons, and then combine fruit, sugar, peel, and juice in a heavy-bottomed stockpot. Cover, and let it sit for at least three hours. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once the jam is boiling, turn the heat to low—you will need to stir constantly to prevent the jam from burning.
Test the jam for setting by pulling the spoon out of the jam and watching the liquid fall from the spoon. Once it falls off of the spoon in a drippy curtain, it is ready to can. Sterilize jars and lids and can according to the health and safety instructions in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.