Preserving good taste

MARSHALL – During farmers’ market season, Josh Coil of Marshall is usually busy in his kitchen every other day, creating a large variety of jams.

His list of jams keeps growing. So far, he has made about 35 different flavors of jam, from strawberry cheesecake to mango pineapple banana, to carrot cake. There’s even a jam made with Mountain Dew and a kiwi cucumber melon on the list.

Coil started making jam four years ago. He said he’s “just a natural cook,” and also learned from his dad.

“I tried a couple of flavors and thought to myself, ‘I can make this,'” he said.

His first two jams were a strawberry banana and a strawberry pineapple, using a recipe he made himself.

“I created my own from the get-go,” Coil said.

Coil uses half the sugar a jam recipe calls for and two times the fruit.

“Cheesecakes (jam) were my ‘big leap’ out of the norm,” Coil said.

Coil experiments with different fruits in his jams. For example, he got a cactus fruit from an ethnic store in the Twin Cities and mixed the fruit with sweet cherries to create a jam called cactus blossom.

“It turned out really good,” Coil said about the cactus blossom jam. “It was one of the favorites of the year.”

A Mountain Dew jam was one of the college kids requests, Coil said.

“It sold out right away,” Coil said.

He said his father recommended possibly making a root beer or a root beer float jam.

“I thought about doing a chocolate-covered cherry one,” he said.

Coil said he thinks a jam concoction through in his head, deciding whether it’s “yes, no or yuck.”

“I always have a fruit or vegetable in the house that is waiting to be used,” Coil said. Most of the produce he uses in his jams are hand-picked, he said.

The biggest favorites of his jams are the cheesecake ones for sure, he said, and the kids usually like anything with strawberry.

During the summer, Coil takes his jams to the farmers’ markets and events around the area – Marshall, Cottonwood, Slayton, Granite Falls, Worthington and Canby. He encourages people to give his jams a try.

“Unless I have a request, I go off by what’s in season or what’s going on pricewise,” he said.

Customers have put jam on their pancakes, ice cream or used it on the grill, Coil said.

“I even have a couple kids eat it by the spoonful,” Coil said.

Coil said he makes about six to eight jars of jam per batch, which becomes part of his inventory for farmers’ markets.

“I’m able to cycle out every single week,” he said.

There has been one “flop” in his jam creations – a watermelon one. If you cook the watermelon without straining it, the pulp is bitter, he said. He then tried one with watermelon and kiwi that worked better.

He said he’s continually making jam every other day “until the snow flies.”

“Then it’s for orders or family,” he said.

With the fall crops, Coil starts making pumpkin pie jam and apple pie jam.

And he tends to have new ideas for jam flavors in mind. Besides being at farmers’ markets, he also has a Facebook page, Josh’s Jams.

“I want to attempt to make an apple streusel jam,” Coil said.