On any given Sunday you can stroll through the aisles of booths at the La Jolla Open Aire Market and find one of the best artisanal jams in town: Soledad Jam. I sat down with owner and creator, Lydia McNeil and learned how Soledad Jam came to be and what makes her jam so unique.
“Jam people are always the nice people.”
Lydia McNeil is a San Diego native with deep roots in the La Jolla community. Not only does she call La Jolla home but she’s also served on the board of Las Patronas for seven years, one as president. It was only fitting that she name her business after one of La Jolla’s most prominent places, Mt. Soledad. In fact, the name itself, Soledad, has a double meaning in that not only did she start her business out of her home kitchen on Mt. Soledad but ‘soledad’ in Spanish means solitude. Which is the way Lydia works; she cooks and cans all of the jams and jellies herself.
The Jam That Started It All
Lydia’s first venture into making homemade jam was for personal use and it started with fig jam. She exclusively made it during the holidays for her family who fondly nick-named it “figgy pudding.” How did she make the leap to selling jam? It came in 2013 after she was presented with a massive box of loquats which she turned into delicious jam. Soon, friends wanted to purchase all of her jam and jelly creations and so Soledad Jam was born.
What Goes Into a Jar of Soledad Jam?
Soledad Jam is handmade in small batches by Lydia herself to ensure quality and taste. I was surprised to learn that not only does she cook out of Mary’s English Kitchen but they also happen to use her jams and jellies in their pastries! Lydia believes in only using organic seasonal flavors and often buys her ingredients from her fellow farmers market neighbors. The jams are pectin-free while most of the jellies contain small portions of natural fruit pectin so the jelly can set. All jams and jellies are gluten-free, corn syrup-free and preservative-free.
- Jamming at home – Lydia recommends starting with raspberry jam. A simple raspberry jam search online will suffice that contains simple ingredients. She recommends using a mix of ripe and fresh fruit to obtain the best taste.
- Creative ways to use it – Make a flavored cocktail out of any of the seedless jams. Simply toss in some jam into your favorite cocktail, shake, and enjoy! Jam is also excellent on ice cream, Greek yogurt, overnight refrigerated oatmeal (current fave!), the possibilities are endless
Where to Buy
Soledad Jam is sold in 4oz and 8oz jars and can be found at the following locations: Mary’s English Kitchen, Warwick’s, La Jolla Farmers Market, Pacific Beach Farmers Market, and Little Italy Mercato. You can always find Lydia working at the farmers markets listed above so be sure to stop by and say hi. She is always happy and eager to share her jam making wisdom with others.