Other People’s Preserve is my opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the very delicious jams, pickles, and preserves being made by dedicated professional canners. If you spot one of these products in the wild, make sure to scoop up a jar.
This week’s featured preserve maker is the Department of Sweet Diversions. Based in Los Angeles and run by Virginie and Thomas, the Dept. uses traditional jam, jelly, butter, and marmalade techniques combined with modern flavor profiles in order to create a tasty little product line.
I had a chance to dig into a jar of their The Suite Surprise. It’s a nicely textured, highly spiced apple butter that’s sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar. It’s a good one for stirring into plain yogurt or spreading into a peanut butter sandwich.
Thomas, one half the Dept. of Sweet Diversions team, recently took the time to answer a few of my questions about their preserves business. Read on to learn a little bit more!
Where did the name, Department of Sweet Diversions, come from?
When we decided to make jam, one of our goals was to come up with new & exciting flavor combinations. So we wanted a name that set us apart from the standard branding you typically see for preserves. One of our ultimate goals is to travel the world in search of rare ingredients to create limited edition jams. To that end, we created the Dept. of Sweet Diversions as a base, and Agent Copperpot as our globe-trotting super sleuth, always on the lookout for new fruits and spices!
Could you tell us a little about Agent Copperpot?
The real Agent Copperpot is Virginie Strub, founder & head chef of the Dept. of Sweet Diversions. She’s originally from France, where she learned traditional preserving techniques at the apron strings of both her grandmothers.
Where does the inspiration for your flavors come from?
At the Dept. of Sweet Diversions, we are first and foremost inspired by all of the amazing seasonal fruit we get here in Southern California. We visit several local farmers markets on a weekly basis, always on the lookout for what’s fresh and flavorful! From there, it’s up to Virginie (aka Agent Copperpot) to work her magic… it’s all about creating, testing, and refining her inspirations.
Made in small batches using traditional techniques, Strub’s cooking process is classic, while the flavors she creates are modern and delectably surprising. From fresh strawberries mixed with the smoldering orange-tinged notes of Grand Marnier to black splendor plums combined cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, ginger and cloves, all of our jam is made by hand, features seasonal and organic ingredients, and is completely free of preservatives.
-Thomas Urech, co-founder of Dept. of Sweet Diversions