Oct 31st 2015

Strega di Triora: Jams and Preserves from the Witches of Liguria


It's no secret that Formaggio Kitchen mongers love a good jam. The sweetness of fruit is a natural partner for cheese, rounding out the punch of stronger types and playing harmoniously with milder, milkier wedges. The jams we favor are those that allow the fruit to shine, without adding too much sugar or using unnecessary thickeners. And if the jam has a unique story, so much the better.

Enter the line of jams we import from Strega di Triora, a small, family-run company based in the small Ligurian town of Triora, not far from the French border. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Triora was home to an infamous series of witch trials; in the late 1500s, a severe famine was blamed on a group of women believed to be practicing witchcraft, and the result was a litany of horrifying events: confessions extracted via torture, private homes turned into prisons, at least one of the accused throwing herself from a window and plunging to her death (and lest we shake our heads at this barbarism, note that our own Salem witch trials took place a full century later).

Much like Salem, Triora's present-day reputation is tied up with its unsavory history; tourists trek to Triora to visit the dedicated museum and poke around historic sites connected to the long-past events. A bright spot in all this spooky gloom is La Strega di Triora, a cheerful shop run by sisters Luana and Leila, and Luana's husband Augusto. Their shelves glow with jars of homemade preserves, local honey and pollen, handmade cheeses, locally foraged mushrooms, and more. Formaggio Kitchen buyers found La Strega di Triora on a visit to Liguria and were immediately enamored with the preserves; we have since forged a relationship with Luana, Leila,and Augusto, and we are proud to carry their products on our shelves.

augusto, luana, and leila
Augusto, Luana, and Leila. (Photo credit: La Strega di Triora)

Strega di Triora jams are excellent, with clean, not-too-sweet fruit flavor and a pleasantly loose texture. Flavors range from simple comforts like raspberry and apricot to less-expected varieties, like Fruits of the Forest, a combination of red currants, blackberries, and blueberries, and Indian Summer, a fig preserve laced with pine nuts and candied lemon peel. The jams are the perfect accompaniment to ice cream or yogurt, an excellent addition to sauces and glazes, and, of course, heaven on a piece of toast. Despite their woeful backstory, Strega di Triora jams and preserves exude brightness and flavor-- just the thing for these dark and dreary late October days.

Author - Jesi Nishibun is a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge. When she’s not behind the cheese counter, you can find her with her nose in a cookbook, or experimenting in her home kitchen.