These Chicks Are Jammin’

Liz Zaccaria and Renee Akkala, old friends who live in Montauk, had enjoyed picking beach plums and foraging for other local fruit together for many years.
Liz Zaccaria and Renee Akkala will deliver customized gift baskets from Montauk to East Hampton.

Even though the ground is hard, the trees are bare, and most farmers markets are closed for the winter, locally sourced and produced food items are still available for last-minute holiday gifts. The list of artisanal purveyors on the East End seems to grow every year, and one of the newest is Two Jammin’ Chicks.

Liz Zaccaria and Renee Akkala, old friends who live in Montauk, had enjoyed picking beach plums and foraging for other local fruit together for many years. The idea for a business began to take shape two summers ago, when Ms. Zaccaria was getting married. “Renee and I were putting together my wedding favors,” she said, “and we decided to use her grandmother’s recipes for beach plum jelly and rosehip jelly. We made tons and tons of each.” 

 Ms. Akkala’s family came to Montauk from Canada in the early 1900s. Ms. Zaccaria referred to her family, which arrived there in the 1950s, as “newcomers.” The transition from hobby to business came when several of their friends asked if they could assemble some gift baskets. “They wanted to pay us, but we said ‘no,’ ” said Ms. Zaccaria. “We like doing it. So we decided to make a business of it, and it’s been great.”

Their first batch was made in Ms. Zaccaria’s kitchen, which is certified by the Department of Agriculture, and they continue to cook there as well as in the kitchen of Barnes Country Market in Springs, which is owned by Ms. Zaccaria’s sister and brother-in-law. Their products are available at that store as well as from their website. They settled on the name while whipping up a batch of jam, drinking pina coladas, and listening to Bob Marley’s “Jammin’ ”.

While their long-term goal is to open a shop, for now the rents on the East End are prohibitive. “We love being able to pass on edible traditions that were passed down to us by our grandparents,” said Ms. Zaccaria. “The traditional ones, like fig, beach plum, and rosehip, have been on the East End for nearly 100 years.”

Still, they are not bound by tradition. “We do brainstorm to come up with new ideas. Renee said that I’m creative chaos and she’s science. We were on the North Fork last year, and as we passed the lavender farm, we decided to see what we could do with that.” Lavender-infused blueberry jam has become one of their most popular flavors.

Among the other offerings, which change depending on demand and available ingredients, are cranberry-habanero jelly, tomato jam, bread and butter pickles, beach plum syrup, and candied jalapenos. “I just sold 15 jars of the jalapenos to one lady, who loves them.” Good news for them, not so good for one shopper who looked in vain for a jar at the Barnes Market.

While they do not sell gift baskets through their website, they are happy to customize baskets for anybody who requests them by telephone at 631-668-6780 or email at info@twojamminchicks.com. They will deliver from Montauk to East Hampton and ship to more distant locations.

East End fruit is often jazzed up with ingredients such as habanero peppers and bourbon.