The sweet, juicy ollalieberry – hybridized grandchild of the blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry vines – resembling like a knobby oversized version of its forerunners, growing best in tangled brambles along the foggy California coast. Here in Santa Cruz, ollalieberry muffins and pies abound during the all-too-short six week summer harvesting season. Happily, a local grower – Gizdich Ranch freezes enough 4-pound bags of the succulent fruit to keep aficionados with a taste of summer during these bleaker months.

I had planned on making ollalieberry jam for my Christmas goodie bags but wanted to kick it up the proverbial notch from a sweet jelly to something a little more spicy and elegant, and I literally woke up one morning thinking, I know! I’ll add pear! and cardamom! It will be great!

I did, and it was. It’s plenty sweet, even with half as much sugar as I found in other recipes, and the fruit pairs really well with cardamom’s heady, spicy-sweet taste. Here it is for you to try, my improvised recipe for ollalieberry-pear jam.

Ollalie-peary jam

  • 7 cups frozen ollalieberries, thawed
  • 5 cups peeled, cored, and chopped pears
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 package pectin

While berries are thawing, peel, core, and cube the pears. I made the mistake of simmering them in water thinking they would soften sufficiently; the best thing to do at this step is to puree them if you’d like a smooth jam or chop them into smaller chunks if you’d like your jam a bit chunkier. I opted for smooth jam.

Place your berries, pears, and water into a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. I added the sugar, cooked at a full boil, stirring often, until it was dissolved – about 5 minutes – and then added the package of pectin and finished as per package directions. I ladled into clean 4-oz Mason jars and canned as per the National Center for Home Food Preservation guidelines. This made 16 4-oz container. Lots of jam. Quite yummy.