Breakfast might just be our favorite meal of the day. We wake up ravenous, and the thought of shaking off sleepiness with a great cup of coffee, espresso or tea brings a smile to our faces. Plus, breakfast is the one meal where we can kinda-sorta cheat a bit. It’s our chance to indulge in some carbs, something that we avoid or minimize the rest of the day. We all have favorites for breakfast: oatmeal with fresh berries and stone fruit, pancakes or waffles (extra points if you add protein powder into the mix), muesli or granola with wonderful additions like slivered almonds, fresh or dried fruits, Greek yogurt, coconut shavings and more. Eggs too, whites or whole. But it’s hard to beat a trusted standby: a wonderful slice of whole grain bread, fresh or toasted, with a great tasting jam.
There’s jam, and then there’s outrageously wonderful jam. We’ve searched far and wide in our travels, and have enjoyed some incredible jams for breakfast with our toast or yogurt. But at a farmer’s market on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, we met our match: the out-of-the-park home run array of hand-made preserves from Monkeypod Jam, an incredible, local small business creating some of the biggest flavors on the planet. If you can imagine tropical breezes, breaking ocean waves and unbelievable fruit flavor in a jar, then you'll have to try this.
Maybe it’s the creative culinary flair of company founder Aletha Thomas. Maybe it’s the incredible, Kauai grown ingredients. All we know is that everything we’ve sampled will take you to the moon with joy. If the photos on this page don’t initiate a Pavlovian response, then perhaps the product names below will leave you short of breath or at least booking a flight to Kauai:
Papaya Vanilla Jam
Pineapple Banana Jam
Starfruit Ginger Jelly
Starfruit Orange Marmalade
White Pineapple Jam
Meyer Lemon Curd
Pineapple Ginger Jam
Cara Cara Orange Marmalade
Lemon Lime Marmalade
Orange Chocolate Sauce
Lilikoi Curd (named to the 2014 Food and Wine Magazine Editor’s Top 10 List)
And those are but a few of Monkeypod's mind-alteringly wonderful jams, jellies, curds, chutneys, syrups and more. Alethea, a former schoolteacher, launched Monkeypod Jam in 2010 when she was placed on furlough. Each furlough Friday, Aletha would pull out her French copper pot and make jams and jellies using ripe Kauai fruit. With each batch, she was preserving the season’s harvest while also preserving childhood memories of her grandmas, both of whom she remembers making jams on the farm.
The turning point came when a neighbor unloaded a hundred pounds of freshly picked, creamy mangoes on her husband’s doorstep. Today, Monkeypod Jam works with more than 25 Kauai farmers to create 55 seasonal preserves, using only the best fresh fruit from Kauai. Aletha continues to make her jams, jellies and marmalades by hand, cooking them in wide copper jam pots, which help heat the fruits quickly in order to capture the freshest, brightest flavors.
You need only look at the dazzling color of her hand made products to know that you’re in for a treat like you’ve never had before.
But we’ve saved the best for last. Remember how we started by saying that breakfast might be our favorite meal of the day? We lied. Sorta. Actually, it might be lunch or dinner, and the reason why is - you guessed right - Monkeypod Jam. In this case, their Spiced Tomato Jam. You read right: Spiced. Tomato. Jam. It’s a bestseller and Aletha’s favorite. Aletha and her team simmer freshly picked tomatoes with organic Kauai lime juice, ginger and chili for hours until the jam turns a dark ruby red.
The result: a chutney-like sauce, balancing sweet and savory flavors. It's perfect with grilled chicken and even burgers. It will jazz up omelets and elevate your cheese and crackers. And it's so good that we’re sure 12-step groups have been created just to deal with her Spiced Tomato Jam's irresistible, wonderfully complex flavor. Try it once and you will be more than hooked. Consider yourself warned.
The good news is that you can buy Monkeypod Jam via the company’s website. But hurry - not all the ridiculously wonderful varieties are available year round.
Yes, we know. Jams, jellies, preserves and curds are sweet, and yes, they do use sugar, and in the case of the curds, butter. We’ll let you decide. Personally, our diet is absurdly strict, and adding a modest amount of jam on a whole grain bread is an extravagance for us, something saved only for breakfast. We’re dabbing our eyes with a hankie, as we won’t allow ourselves to enjoy their Lilikoi Curd, because we have signed off from using butter long ago. (We decided that some epic carbs for breakfast will beat butter on toast any day, with apologies to Paula Deen.)
But for those of us whose diet doesn’t border on the fanatical, we salute you breakfast-loving sinners. And for those of you who are powerless over the temptation to have a bit of fun with your breakfast (and we believe life is best enjoyed in moderation), we bestow our highest recommendation on Monkeypod Jam’s insanely wonderful array of spreadable happiness.
As penance, we will now swim or run for one hour. There. We feel better now.
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