Jams And Curds By Rare Bird Preserves

The newest treat from Rare Bird Preserves

Talk to Elizabeth Madden about her curds, and the word "luxurious" will undoubtedly come into play.

Her Oak Park-based jam company, Rare Bird Preserves, creates deeply flavored jams with intriguing combinations such as cranberry-clementine and chocolate-blueberry.

In the winter, when local fruit is on hiatus, Madden instead cooks rich egg-based curds, and her passion-fruit and Meyer lemon curds are among the finest jars we've encountered. Her newest flavor, the just-launched blackberry-lime, is as welcome in summer as in the off-season.

The purple-hued, custard-like blend is made without preservatives or added thickeners, and its texture is silky and soft–more reminiscent of something found on the plated dessert of a pastry chef than in the jars of gelatinous lemon curd on grocery shelves. The lime doesn't overpower, but bolsters the flavor of the sweet, dark fruit.

Use the curd to fill crêpes or as the base of a simple, elegant fool by folding it into whipped cream, chilling and garnishing with fresh blackberries and lime zest.

Pick up the curd ($10) at Provenance beginning next week and at next week's Andersonville and Logan Square farmers' markets, and look out for the imminent return of two seasonal favorites: peach-lavender and apricot-almond preserves, flavored with the apricot's bitter, almond-like pit.