LAWAI — Aletha Thomas was teaching middle school when the furloughs hit in June 2010.
With that extra day on her hands and mixed feelings, Thomas started creating unique Kauai fruit jams, jellies, marmalades, and curds using traditional French preservation techniques she learned growing up in Oregon.
“We had a forest where blackberries grew beyond our fence,” Thomas said. “Every day, my mother would set out four pails for us girls to fill with blackberries before she got home.”
That was the birth of Monkeypod Jam, which now operates a certified kitchen, showroom and dining area in Lawai. Today, Monkeypod Jam works with more than 25 Kauai farmers to create more than 50 seasonal preserves.
Thomas, who is a certified Master Preserver, is holding a four-hour workshop from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday for making marmalades, start to finish.
“I’ve been wanting to do workshops for a while,” Thomas said. “It must be going back to my roots as a teacher.”
Participants will be provided with supplies as well as the pupu and dinner utilizing the completed product, and two jars of marmalade to take home.
During the workshop the class will examine several topics including the role of sugar, the importance of lemon juice and how to add it, and the states of cooking and how to test accurately for doneness.
The Furlough Fridays are just a memory now, but Thomas’ routines during those furloughs are alive and well at Monkeypod Jam.
“Every Furlough Friday, I would pull out my French copper pot and make jams and jellies using ripe Kauai fruit,” Thomas said. “Every batch preserved the season’s harvest. But it also preserved my memories of my grandmas, both of whom preserved the season’s local bounty.”
Information: (808) 378-4208, www.monkeypodjam.com