Purveyors: Nieta’s Calamansi and Pineapple Jams are Out to Showcase our Local Produce to the WorldNovember 6, 2017
A spoonful of jam does wonders, imparting its sweet essence and lush syrupy character onto just about anything you decide to dollop it onto. This is something Patricia Paredes knows by heart, having grown up knowing there would always be a jar of jam in their fridge. With grandmothers from both sides—her lola and abuelita—who both shared a love for making preserves and who would pass on the gift, teaching her how to make orange marmalade and pineapple jam, it was only natural that she would soon pick up their passion and experiment with creating her very own.
The foundation came from them—understanding why jams need acid to stay preserved; understanding how sugar, water, pectin and heat work to create jam; [and so on]. They encouraged me to experiment as a child.”
The result of these many experiments is Nieta—a line of homemade jams and marmalades based on her grandmothers’ recipes (“nieta” being Spanish for granddaughter), but with flavors that are all her own. Local fruit, primarily calamansi, is the star here: “I chose to work with calamansi first because I noticed how Filipinos and foreigners gush about the fruit,” shares Paredes, whose many travels led to the observation that the said citrus, when prepared as jam, could be marketed to foreigners familiar with the joys that await a jar of fruit preserves while seeking relatively exotic flavors. Moreover, Paredes sees room for today’s Filipinos to explore the full possibilities of jam outside being spread on toast or pan de sal: as a standalone post-meal sweet consumed plain from a spoon; as a quick dessert sauce spooned on ice cream or oatmeal; as a sweet addition to a cheese platter; as a glaze for cooking meat; as a side condiment with grilled or fried food; or even as stirred into a cocktail.
Each member of the Nieta line offers its own distinctive profile that you can savor on its own, or try working into other applications. Most basic of the calamansi-based offerings is the plain Calamansi Marmalade, a delightfully tangy number which works wonders when spooned onto Greek yogurt. A more robust sensation can be had via the Calamansi-Lemongrass variant, whose eponymous perennial grass adds a welcome sharpness against the calamansi’s tang (try it mixed with a Thai curry paste as a marinade for poultry or fish); or the Calamansi Mint & Gin, which delivers the sensation of your Friday-night highball in a sweet, concentrated spoonful. Also on Nieta’s lineup are pineapple jams with flavor combos you won’t find anywhere else: the Pineapple Sili Labuyo, which highlights the birds’-eye chili‘s fruitiness while building up on heat slowly but surely (spread it on your jamon sandwiches this Christmas—mustard optional); and the Pineapple Basil & Tequila, an unusual but aromatic member that demonstrates the allure of savory on sweet.
Fusing traditional techniques and contemporary flavor combinations, Paredes hopes to be able to export her products in the future and help make a name for Filipino produce abroad. “I . . . believe that Filipino food has so much to offer on the world stage. It’s just a matter of presentation and innovation, [but] we can compete with what is out there and not just as pasalubong . . . I want to do my part in showing that Filipino food products are awesome.” We’re sure both lola and abuelita would be proud.
A line of homemade jams that highlight calamansi and pineapple.
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