Get ready for this jelly – London Borough of Jam
by Elizabeth Rushe
London Borough of Jam is a jam range and charming shop run by Lillie O’Brien. Originally from Melbourne, Lillie is a pastry chef who has been running her own jam business (jelly for US folks) since 2011. LBJ handmade jams are locally produced preserves in Hackney, London, based on seasonal ingredients, with an emphasis on championing the fruit, not the sugar. Made in small batches, the flavour range includes delicious pairings such as fig and earl grey; raspberry and hibiscus flower; and blackberry and bay leaves.
I was lucky enough to have been brought a few pots of LBJ jams by some thoughtful friends visiting from London, and though not a huge jam person myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed slathering these fruity concoctions on crunchy sourdough toast, and using them as a glaze for homemade hot cross buns.
The LBJ cooking philosophy is aimed at preserving (literally) the flavours of the ingredients to a higher standard than what you find on the supermarket shelf. Lillie’s jams have a shorter cooking time than mass produced jams, so more of those delicious natural flavours are locked into each pot of jam. While sugar is also an ingredient, LBJ chooses natural, unrefined sugar, and also avoids adding any commercial pectin. You might also notice that no two fruits ever end up in the same jar, part of Lillie’s philosophy to emphasise each individual fruit’s flavour, combined with intriguing herbs or spices to enhance it.
You can also experience London Borough of Jam in person, by visiting the super cute LBJ shop in Clapton, which opens on weekends only (11 am to 5 pm). Lillie extends her product range depending on the season, currently her doughnuts are back in rotation, filled with loganberry, or rhubarb and cardamom jam. The shop also stocks a selection of products curated by Lillie, such as magazines and books, crockery, coffee accessories, textiles and home wares. You can also attend workshops there, such as “Cultured butter and daily ferments” with fermentation teacher Kathe Kaczmarzyk of Levain London. There are more planned for September, the LBJ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/londonboroughofjam/) is a good place to stay updated on the goings on.
Lillie is currently working on the London Borough of Jam book, and if you’re travelling internationally, Lillie will be hosting workshops herself in Japan this October, in cooperation with Mistletoe Tea (http://www.tea-treats.com), which stocks the LBJ range.
London Borough of Jam Shop
51D, Chatsworth Road,
Elizabeth Rushe is a freelance writer from Ireland, based in Berlin. Elizabeth is the creator of the Berlin Belly food podcast, showcasing women working in food in Berlin, and her writing has been published by NPR, Vice, Racked. Follow Elizabeth Rushe on Twitter: @elizafoxxx