For Maureen Foley, life is all about reinvention. The chef/owner of Red Hen Cannery has been a number of things in her life — novelist, artist, teacher, Indy staffer — and never planned to make marmalades professionally, until life called for a shift in gears.
Ever adaptable, Foley fell back on her Carpinteria farm-girl roots and writerly instincts, using her grandmother’s recipes as inspiration for a sophisticated line of preserves. In flavors like her roasted peach brown sugar, Santa Rosa plum and chai spice, and three citrus and bourbon marmalade, Foley starts with simple seasonal fruit flavors pulled from her family’s ranch and adds a poetic flavor twist. For the few fruits she can’t find at home, she sources from other nearby farms.
Her efforts are paying off. In addition to having a strong Farmers Market following, Red Hen jams and marmalades are on the shelves of Flagstone Pantry, Book Ends Café, Porch, and Beach Bowl and also at retailers in Costa Mesa and Calabasas. Recently, Foley’s creations garnered international acclaim at this year’s 10th Annual Dalemain Marmalade Festival in England, with her Tangelo-Kumquat Marmalade earning a gold and her Spicy Orange Marmalade earning a silver for their international marmalade categories. We checked out three of her best marmalades just before the summer fruit season begins.
Tangelo-Kumquat Marmalade: Bright, sweet, light, and without any of the usual bitterness kumquat rind imparts, this angelically sweet confiture perfectly balances sharp cheddar and works as the base for a light marinade. This won the gold, but be warned: Tangelo season is over, making this a very limited-edition batch.
Spicy Orange Marmalade: This spread is rich with cinnamon and sumptuous autumnal spice, with just a slight bit of lingering heat. Calling it “a Californian version of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce,” Foley suggests pairing with pumpkin bread or spreading it on a turkey sandwich.
Irish Whiskey Marmalade: This best seller is inspired by her husband’s Irish roots. The fruit-forward spread is all orange at the onset, with an Irish creamy undercurrent revealing itself at the back of the palate. It would be marvelous woven into a citrus-chocolate soufflé.