Today, a cookbook from Laena McCarthy, founder of “Anarchy In A Jar” brand Brooklyn-made jams and jellies, hits shelves nationwide. Titled Jam On, the book features recipes for some of her most-craved concoctions, such as Strawberry Balsamic jam and Grapefruit and Smoked Salt marmalade. But aside from the easy-to-follow instructions and back-to-basics philosophy about home jamming, the book itself is another testament to Brooklyn’s status as an “incubator” of food trends, and the down-to-earth leaders who are shaking up the status quo about Big Food Production and Big Ag, once seen as a must for commercial success. Anarchy, you might call it.
For one thing, the book is photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell, the local photographer who spent years capturing the kitchens in Edible Brooklyn’s Back of the House feature. (That column, written by Rachel Wharton, won the James Beard Award two years ago, the first ever for the Edible Communities magazines.) Another is that Anarchy In A Jar is available at Williams-Sonoma stores, along with a select handful of other Brooklyn-made artisanal food businesses, such as Brooklyn Brine. Also, McCarthy selects much of her fresh ingredients from local farms, including those right in Brooklyn, where she also produces the jam (in the kitchen of Greenpoint’s Eastern District food market). She often goes to farms and picks fruit herself, which she did recently for Morello cherries in the Catskills. Back in the day, McCarthy would deliver her jars by bicycle direct to customers; today, she has a beaten-up white van to tackle the task, along with those of main squeeze Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange Farm.
This, apparently, is one thing that increases in size when a brand gets “big.” That, and publishing a cookbook. But what else might be in store? Here’s the word, from McCarthy, on the eve of the book’s launch.