2/19/2013 04:27:00 PM

Artisans in Austin: Confituras

Stephanie McClenny is the fruit queen. Since 2010 her company, Confituras, has plied Austin with addictive small-batch jams, jellies and preserves (“confituras” means “jams” in Spanish). McClenny uses local flavors like grapefruit and blueberries and natural sugars and citrus to transform already sweet fruit into spreadable delectables.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, what’s the difference between jams, jellies and preserves? “That’s the most common question I am asked,” says McClenny. “Jams tend to be a blend of fruit and sugar, with some large pieces of fruit included, but generally they are more homogenous, opaque, and less chunky than a fruit preserve. Jellies are a clear fruit gel made out of fruit juice.”

The catchphrase “small batch” is literal here, since McClenny’s batches never contain more than 10 pounds of fruit, and at most each batch creates about 12 jars. In the fall and winter you’ll find flavors like salted caramel pear butter and Rio Star grapefruit and vanilla jam, and the summer sprouts special tastes like blueberry and basil and bourbon sugar peach preserves. McClenny’s personal favorite, though, is the versatile strawberry balsamic black pepper. “It can be a spread for toast, a pairing with cheese, a perfect layer for a cake, and so on,” she says.

Always creative, she also uses foraged wild fruits like wild plums, prickly pear, agarita berries and mayhaw. Look out this year for unusual herb infusions, like lemon balm, scented geraniums and fresh chamomile.

McClenny won a Good Food Award for her Texas Fig Preserves (local figs, Round Rock honey, white balsamic vinegar and bay leaves) at the 2012 San Francisco Good Food Awards, hosted by Alice Waters. The award-winning jam won’t be available again until the summer, but you can buy other flavors at places around town like ingredients and Con ’Olio Oils and Vinegars and at most of the farmers markets. Or invest in a Confituras jam share, where you’ll be guaranteed six or 12 seasonal flavors through the course of the year.

Confituras; 1208 W. Fourth St.

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