By Gianna Volpe
When German farm girl turned foodie fashionista Nicole Rutsch first moved to America in 2001, she was surprised at the lack of local ingredients with which to make edibles, as well as art. “I always had this craving of, ‘Where are all the farms? Where’s the nature? Why are we not growing all of these things?” said the 34-year-old caterer who also works in photography and art direction, particularly for the New York fashion industry. “That’s how I grew up. I wanted to go pick some berries and being in the big city you cannot have that. There were not really a lot of sources to make things happen and I felt like I wanted to change that.”
Fast forward nearly 15 years later and Ms. Rutsch is the owner of her very own catering and food styling company, and excited o share her craft and love to local food in Amagansett next Friday evening where she will be leading a very ‘Farm-To-Jar’ jam-making workshop out of Amber Waves Farm.
“[Amber Waves] is an amazing place and they have both raspberries and lavender, so we’re going to encourage people to go and pick their own ingredients to make jam,” Ms. Rutsch said of the comprehensive two-and-a-half hour tutorial where folks can tour the farm and source fresh ingredients from it to make Ms. Rutsch’s peach, raspberry and lavender jam. Guests will also receive additional jars of jam, recipes for infusing preserves into cocktails with bourbon and Prosecco and will leave equipped with a wealth of knowledge including the difference between jams, jellies and marmalades.
“It’s the components,” explained Ms. Rutsch. “Jelly is just fruit juice, jams are fruit chunks within the actual preserve and marmalade has the full chunks of fruit in it.”
Though she’s particularly fond of the educational aspect to her workshops, which Ms. Rutsch has done in a number of cheese shops throughout the city, what work-shoppers seem most attracted to is the versatility inherent in the ‘Liebe is Jam’ product.
“People are amazed you can put it on your pizza or in your cocktails, marinade your fish with it or use it in a cheese pairing,” said Ms. Rutsch. “Jam is also a good party-starter; it’s something healthy and interesting you can use to engage people and have all this knowledge about it.”
She said the product is a perfect pick for the person seeking something sweet, but not slogged with sugar. That’s a trend Ms. Rutsch said feels just right to those who grew up in Europe’s less sugar-driven countries.
“Fruit has a lot of sugar as is and we [Europeans] are not so much on the sweet side,” she explained. “We try to preserve the flavor of the fruit, so we don’t have to add in a lot of sugar…Less is more and not only is the food trend going in that direction because we know how bad a lot of sugar is for us now, but adding sugar and salt is what you do to food to make it flavorful if it doesn’t have the perfect consistency.”
And that certainly isn’t the case for Ms. Rutch’s preserves, which can now be found in shops all through Brooklyn and Manhattan after the Williamsburg resident began making jam at the Brooklyn incubator and selling it on Etsy four years ago. “It took off from there and I have a commercial kitchen now that I rent because I’m very busy with my catering,” she said. “I love to create experiences and stories with food, so it’s not just dropping off food…I work closely with farmers and do fresh farm-to-table scenes that can be rustic or any other theme…We can do anything, but I want the quality to speak for itself.”
And that’s exactly what the quality of the fruit used in Ms. Rutsch’s products does for the Liebe is Jam product; It’s a unique line of preserves paired with herbs for fresh-tasting jams using fascinating flavors.
There are four for every season and though summer includes savory selections like pear, kiwi with lime and apricot, pineapple with thyme, Ms. Rutsch is secretly excited for fall when her pumpkin, cranberry with maple jam will be jarred again.
“I can never wait for the fall; It’s one of my favorite seasons besides the summer because it brings you back to this really nice place,” Ms. Rutsch said of a nostalgia that is sure to remind her of the old days making jam with her grandmother back in Stadecken, Germany. “My grandmother taught me how to make a lot of jams traditionally, but I wanted to take it to the next level to include interesting flavors that haven’t been mixed and matched before…I always wanted to make a pumpkin jam—however we all know that pumpkin is very thick and so how do you sort of condense it to the consistency of a jam—I thought about adding cranberry and some maple for the sweetness of it and to lessen the sugar content, so I thought of this pumpkin cranberry and maple jam, which is my favorite of all time.”
To sign up for the “Jammin’ Out with Liebe is Jam” workshop, which takes place between 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday Aug. 5, visit the Amber Waves website at amberwavesfarm.org.