Tayberries. It all began with tayberries.
In 2016, Carl Momberger ran a catering kitchen on the edge of the agricultural region in Washington County, OR. One June morning, his produce buying guide featured an unfamiliar item called a tayberry for $30 per lb. “What’s so special about these berries? Are they going to do my taxes for me?” he asked, incredulously.
This peculiar berry prompted research to find out what they are and why they were so expensive. In the course of that research, he found that they were available for U-Pick only three miles away at Hoffman Farms. Within minutes, he could hold this berry and learn a few of its secrets. Part of the reason that they are expensive from a produce purveyor is that they are an extremely fragile berry. By the time he returned to the shop, the berries had started to look more like soup.
The best thing to do with these tayberries as they lost more structure and juice was to make them into jam. After some research into preserving fruit, he gathered the necessary tools and set to work. The results were better than he could have imagined.
Tayberries are a hybrid of raspberry and blackberry. Their name comes from the River Tay, which flows through Dundee, Scotland, where they were originally developed. Both of tayberry’s component parts shine through in the final berry, making it simultaneously unique and familiar.
The raspberry and blackberry balanced each other perfectly, with a beautiful floral note that carried from the field to the final product. This incredible jam sparked a new passion.
That first spark grew into a flame. Carl returned to Hoffman Farms and began picking berries from their wide selection. More tayberries and blackberries and raspberries and strawberries, each made it back to the kitchen and into its own jam. Each one with its own personality and identity. His excitement grew from learning to explore and harness the unique character that each new fruit and each new cultivar of fruit had to offer.
In spring 2017, he started making jams and selling them to
friends and family under the name Golden Eel Jams. That first
year saw the production of 14 different jams and a lot of on
the job training. Tromping through muddy fields and eating
exotic berries made this labor of love a lot of fun.
The first subscription service began in 2018, with both
summer fruit and winter fruit subscriptions available. It was a
smashing success, leading to over 30 different jam flavors
getting produced that year. With so much work to be done,
Carl asked Jared Roberts to join him in building the business.
Since then, Golden Eel Jams has grown to include new projects and new opportunities. Big Jalm became the primary product line for retail products. After co packing jam for West Union Gardens for two years, both Sweet Berry Oregon and Hoffman Farms (where it all began) started using Golden Eel Jams to co pack their jams as well. Join Golden Eel Jams in their mission to showcase the best fruit available from the best family-run farms in Oregon.