For one thing, the book is photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell, the local photographer who spent years capturing the kitchens in Edible Brooklyn's Back of the House feature. (That column, written by Rachel Wharton, won the James Beard Award two years ago, the first ever for the Edible Communities magazines.) Another is that Anarchy In A Jar is available at Williams-Sonoma stores, along with a select handful of other Brooklyn-made artisanal food businesses, such as Brooklyn Brine. Also, McCarthy selects much of her fresh ingredients from local farms, including those right in Brooklyn, where she also produces the jam (in the kitchen of Greenpoint's Eastern District food market). She often goes to farms and picks fruit herself, which she did recently for Morello cherries in the Catskills. Back in the day, McCarthy would deliver her jars by bicycle direct to customers; today, she has a beaten-up white van to tackle the task, along with those of main squeeze Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange Farm.
This, apparently, is one thing that increases in size when a brand gets “big.” That, and publishing a cookbook. But what else might be in store? Here's the word, from McCarthy, on the eve of the book's launch.
I learned to make jam from my mom. We would cook together, using local produce and herbs from the garden. As I got older, and was living on my own, I started experimenting — and not all the results were a success! I failed so many times, with the jam not setting right or the jars not sealing. But the more I jammed, the easier it got, and I began developing my own recipes and techniques.
What's your favorite recipe in the book to make with produce available now?
That's hard, there's so much great fruit that's ripe right now! One of my personal favorites is a recipe I call "Umami Shiso Fine Plum Jam"— it's sugar-free and was inspired by a video you and I shot years ago of a pickled plum experiment, using the Japanese leaf herb shiso, which is used in the classic Japanese umeboshi plum. Both are available this time of year at the farmers market. (Ed: Ah yes, that video-attempt day. It actually inspired something??)
How much of the fruits, vegetables or herbs do you currently source from Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm for your flavors?
I wish I could source more fruit from them, but it takes a long time and lots of room to cultivate fruit orchards, not the perfect crop for urban rooftops! I do source all my herbs from them, and tomatoes and
peppers for pepper jelly and chutney.
What are some new flavors you're experimenting with that might be available soon?
I've been experimenting with a Bloody Mary Jam, a tomato jam with horseradish, peppercorns and vinegar. It's fun, and it tastes great with cheese and meat.
What's it like working in the kitchen of Eastern District as your jamming facility? Do you have a barter system of jam for cheese with them?
I do love cheese and they have an amazing selection, but no, we don't barter too much, we retain a nice amount of autonomy although we work in connected spaces — I do make a signature chutney for them that they use on a sandwich. I love renting my kitchen from them, we share a walk-in and warehouse space, and it's nice to have the company of neighboring tenants to banter with.
Do you have any plans to move your production or headquarters outside of Brooklyn?
As we grow into a larger facility in the coming year or so, I would love to be able to stay in Brooklyn. It's much more expensive to produce in the city, and much more difficult due to the burdensome bureaucracy of running a business here, high rent and limited space. But I love working and living in the city, and will remain here as long as I'm able.