A Windermere resident creates jam with flavors that you might not expect.
| 3:53 p.m. January 20, 2016
Arts + Entertainment
Arts + Culture
Many people enjoy banana bread, but few people would think to make the bakery good into a jam flavor. Fortunately for West Orange residents, Lisa Plasencia is thinking creatively.
Plasencia is owner of Sweet Baby Girl Co., which sells jams at local farmers markets — most notably the Winter Garden Farmers Market — and through her Etsy store.
One of her most popular jams is her Bonkers Banana Nut Bread Jam — which is basically Plasencia’s recipe for banana bread converted into jam form.
“I wanted something weird but … delicious,” she said. “And I want people to see that there’s so much more that you can do with jams than just, ‘Hey, I’m going to spread it on toast.’”
She and her fiance, Yojan Gonzalez, have incorporated the jams into meals. When they make shrimp and grits, they use the Punchy Pineapple Habanero Jam as a glaze. Blissfully Bourbon Fig Jam pairs nicely with pork tenderloin. Bonkers Banana Nut Bread Jam goes well with empanadas, and Scrumptious Carrot Cake Jam is good on a croissant. And for your BLT? Give it some Boozy Bourbon Bacon Jam.
She makes jam flavors you probably can’t find at your local grocery store. Havana Dreams Blueberry Mojito Jam — blueberries, rum, mint and lime. Blissfully Bourbon Fig Jam — fig, bourbon and vanilla beans.
Plasencia, formerly a chef at Walt Disney World, starting making the unique jams while pregnant with her daughter, Carolina Gonzalez. When she went on medical leave, she starting visiting local farms and picking her own produce. On the first trip, she picked 18 pounds of blueberries.
She began making blueberry cobbler and bread pudding, but she quickly moved into making jams — with a twist.
They were a hit with Plasencia’s friends, so she went to buy more produce.
“Every time some fruit comes into season, we start making jams,” she said.
When Plasencia went back to work, she didn’t want to leave Carolina, who is now 7 months old. Plasencia formed Sweet Baby Girl Co., a business named after Carolina, which gave her the ability to work and take care of Carolina.
JAM AS ART
Making unique flavors takes a creative eye, but Plasencia sees the whole process as an art, from creating to the presentation.
“It totally is an art,” she said. “It takes skills, and you make things beautiful. Food can be gorgeous in the presentations and the way that you put it out.”
She showcases the presentation of her food — as well as ideas on how to use the various jams — on her Instagram feed, @sweetbaby girljams.
Different seasons also required the jams used to change. Sweet Baby Girl Co. currently has 17 flavors of jams, but many jams are only available when the fruit is in season. Because blueberry season has ended, Havana Dreams Blueberry Mojito Jam has sold out until next season. There are also only three jars left of Blissfully Bourbon Fig Jam.
Whenever possible, Plasencia purchases her produce from local farmers. She keeps chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup out of her products and uses lemon juice to preserve the jam.
Plasencia hopes to expand the company by keeping with the theme of spreads — chutneys, hot sauces and barbecue sauces, but she and Gonzalez, who is also a chef, hope to start a healthy meal plan service locally within the next month.
The meal plans will be healthy and tailored to the lifestyles of their clients. The jams can be incorporated into some of these meals. The five-day-a-week plan would probably start with dinners, which would be delivered.