For Sabā Parsa, preserving the flavors, textures, and colors of Centennial State produce is an art form. Through her Boulder-based Sabā Jam, the Iranian-American artisan aims to bring attention to the splendor of our bounty as well as her homeland’s custom of treasuring the harvest. “In Iran, fruit is the thing,” says Parsa, who came to the United States in 2000 to attend college. “When you go to somebody’s house, you take them a bag of fruit, which are like jewels that people cherish and love.”
Parsa’s jam-packed journey began in San Francisco more than a decade ago, when she began making preserves for her partner, who was living on the East Coast during its seasonal-fruit-scarce wintertime. An appreciation for the craft and the Golden State’s produce inspired Parsa, a chemical engineer by trade, to take classes at Oakland’s Food Craft Institute and train with renowned Bay Area jam makers. Sabā Jam was born as a side hustle in 2010, but by 2018, it became her profession. When her partner landed a job at the University of Colorado Boulder, the couple moved to the Front Range, where Parsa immediately fell in love with juicy stone fruits from the Western Slope.
Now, Parsa works with growers across the state, including Longmont’s Aspen Moon Farm and BonaVida Growers, Paonia’s First Fruit Organic Farms, and Brighton’s Berry Patch Farms. She often cooks their fruit within hours of it leaving the farm or orchard, simmering it in copper pots with a bit of organic sugar, citrus juice, and, often, single-origin spices from companies like Oakland-based Diaspora Co. The results—Aranya-peppercorn-flecked Paonia cherry jam, Palisade peach jam with Baraka cardamom, sweet saffron-tinged Longmont tomato jam—beg to be spread onto toast, stirred into yogurt, or devoured straight from the jar. “The fruit is doing most of the work,” Parsa says. “My goal is to help the farmers realize that there is demand for this high-quality fruit, so they’ll keep growing.”