Hitting the Sweet Spot

By Elizabeth Bomze | Boston Magazine |

The Winner: Bonnie’s Jams, Cambridge
Just-picked flavor: Five stars
Gift-ability: Five stars
Our victor comes from Formaggio Kitchen, where Bonnie Shershow fills up cute Mason jars with top-notch jams and preserves using nothing but a copper pot, peak-season berries, sugar, and just the right amount of lemon juice.

$15.95 for 18 oz., Formaggio Kitchen, 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-4750, formaggiokitchen.com.

Hi-Rise Bread Company, Cambridge
Just-picked flavor: Four stars
Gift-ability: Five stars
It may be a tad on the sweet side, but this runny, rose-colored spread packs plenty of berry flavor—along with lots of seeds. Low-tech packaging (just a label on the cap) boosts the artisanal vibe.

$12 for 18 oz., 208 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-8766.

Deborah’s Kitchen, Littleton
Just-picked flavor: Four stars
Gift-ability: Four stars
Two (or more) fruits are better than one in Deborah Taylor’s jams, and so is roughly two-thirds less sugar—allowing this quartet of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries to shine with fruity intensity, despite a slightly chunky texture.

$7 for 9 oz., available at Brookline and Copley farmers’ markets and select Whole Foods Markets, deborahskitchen.com.

Trappist Preserves, Spencer
Just-picked flavor: Three stars
Gift-ability: One star
Though it lacks the pretty bottles and that loose, jammy texture of the top brands, this monk-made preserve bests most grocery-store staples—and even some of the smaller-scale spreads—by delivering a concentrated berry punch.

$4.50 for 12 oz., available at most supermarkets, monasterygreetings.com.

Claire’s Country Garden, Alburg, VT
Just-picked flavor: Two stars
Gift-ability: Two stars
Surprisingly overcooked taste for a farm-to-table product. Claire Bohannon’s homegrown crop undergoes little processing before being packed into old-timey glass jars, but the unwelcome addition of butter overwhelms the pulpy berry bits.

$8 for 9 oz., Lionette’s Market, 577 Tremont St., Boston, 617-778-0360, clairescountrygarden.com.

Stonewall Kitchen, York, ME
Just-picked flavor: One star
Gift-ability: Three stars
This gourmet standard in the green-lidded jar is positively loaded with sugar. $7.50 for 13 oz., available at many gourmet markets, stonewallkitchen.com.