Chris Bogard

Janet McDonald of The Good Stuff

Jam. Jelly. Marmalade. Preserve. Whatever the name of the gelatinous companion to toast, it’s all delicious. Thankfully, Sacramento has its very own local producer to satisfy our cravings, chief preserve maker Janet McDonald of the aptly named The Good Stuff.2_small800x1200 Janet is among the growing number of small food producers based in the Sacramento region who harness their talents and passions for making good food with locally-sourced ingredients. All of the preserves are handmade in small batches out of midtown’s Preservation & Co, and most of the organic fruit used in the preserves comes from Sacramento-region farms with a commitment to fostering a sustainable food system throughout their production and labor practices, such as Good Humus and Soil Born Farms.

Since The Good Stuff relies on the bounty of the Sacramento region for its star ingredients, the preserve-making process must overcome challenges in following seasonal fruit availability. With the changing climate, this past summer made for a busy season with fruits arriving earlier and in a shorter timeframe. The silver lining, though, is that the value of letting nature lead results in unique and diverse products: Winter’s citrus season provides for traditional favorites like Lemon Curd and creative marmalades such as Chili Orange or Meyer Lemon Blood Orange, while summer’s berry season brings out flavors such as Chili Blackberry or Strawberry with Aged Citrus Bitters.4bWhile many preserves rely on the addition of synthetic ingredients to obtain their consistency, Janet is adamant about leaving them out, opting instead for the more time-intensive process of boiling. These extra efforts come through in the taste of the preserves and do not go unrecognized. Case in point, The Good Stuff recently received a Good Food Award for one of its most popular jams, Best Plum.7_small800x1200 9 10 12Conscious that her food preserving is a small part of a larger food system, Janet supports Soil Born’s Harvest Sacramento project, an initiative working to simultaneously reduce food waste while providing fresh fruit and vegetables to area food assistance agencies, like the Sacramento Food Bank, by gleaning fruits and vegetables from backyards and small orchards. Janet volunteers her time working with other community volunteers using this gleaned fruit to produce preserves which are then sold by Soil Born Farms to help offset some of the expenses incurred in the fruit gleaning process, like repairing tools. Since the jam making for the Harvest Sacramento project relies on volunteer support, if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand in preserve making, this is a great opportunity to learn while helping to support an important project.

You can currently find The Good Stuff sold online and at Preservation & Co, at food retailers such as Corti Brothers and The Natural Foods Co-op.13_small800x1000

Photos | Chris Bogard