The jams and marmalades from J&M Jaleas y Mermeladas are made in a large warehouse in Calle Blancos, a suburb close to downtown San José. In the middle of the ample concrete structure stood Fiorella Montealegre, the owner, and received us with a great smile.
“Welcome, welcome!”, she said, still smiling. She was ready to give us a tour.
A quick walk through the warehouse showed some of the fresh fruits the company works with: maracuyá from Turrialba, strawberries from Poás and pineapple from the Caribbean coast. “Everything is sourced from local producers and made in very small batches in order to ensure the best quality possible.”
It was quality you could smell. One of the pineapples, which was cut in half, released an incredibly sweet smell that could only happen when ripe. It’s vibrant golden yellow flesh invited everyone for a bite. Pineapples like those can only be found in Costa Rica.
I asked, out of mere curiosity, which fruits make the best jams. In a country where you can find so many varieties of fruit, I imagined not all of them make a delectable jam. Yet Fiorella disagreed. “The best jam is the fruit (or fruits) you love the most. You can also think of the characteristics of that fruit, and play with its flavor”, she said. “Once you transform it into a jam, something changes. There are people that don’t like papaya, but can’t live without our papaya and pineapple jam.
Fiorella continued and spoke openly about the origins of her business. “When people come to Costa Rica, they fall in love with the fruits here. They’re so tasty, sweet and juicy. Making jam was my way of helping visitors take a little bit of Costa Rica… in a jar.”
Even though a jar of pineapple jam isn’t the same as a fresh slice of fruit on a sunny day, a jar of jam still contains most of its nutritional properties. So, which are the healthiest tropical fruits for artisan jam?
With Fiorella’s help, we’ve created a small list.
Pineapple, the Most Loved Artisan Jam
When people talk about including fruits in a healthy diet, pineapple should always present. The so-called "queen of fruits" has a high fiber content, vitamins C, B1, B6, folic acid and minerals give it digestive properties. Research conducted by Sri Ramachandra University in India says that pineapples contain a mixture of enzymes that helps digest proteins. Besides it’s digestive properties and anti-inflammatory effects, it works great with both sweet and savory dishes.
Papaya, along with pineapple, is one of the best fruits to support the functions of the stomach and intestine. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to alleviate various disorders, according to this study conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia. A jam or marmalade brings
The guava, which enchants with its delicate aroma, is a fruit with a high beneficial power for health. Its vitamin C content makes it a product that helps fight cell damage and premature aging caused by free radicals. In addition, it also has antibiotic properties that allow us to prevent and improve some infections.
The juicy and sweet mango stands out for its beta-carotene content, which reduces blood cholesterol levels and protects heart health, according to information obtained from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In addition, its soluble fiber content helps people with intestinal disease. Finally, this fruit is a wonderful source of vitamin C, which makes it a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Passion fruit is a must in our desserts, juices and smoothies. It is depurative and antioxidant, so it helps us eliminate toxins and keep us healthy. In addition, according to this study conducted by the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa in Mexico, it would allow us to relax in situations of stress and nervousness.
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