September 25, 12 | Takako Chiba
Choosing ingredients, making jam, packaging, making soda, and running a cafe. All these jobs are completed at Chobirico. Jam Institute by one person, Ms. Sugawara.
The name "Chobirico. Jam Institute" may seem a bit strange to a newcomer, but you’ll soon find out that "Chobirico" is actually Keiko Sugawara's (owner), nickname. Now why the period after Chobirico? It seems that the owner was told by a fortune teller that putting a period in the shop name would bring the shop good fortune and many visitors.
"I used to work in a building in Iwamizawa. But three years ago I rented this old house. With the help of friends we remodeled, and the whole business has moved here." says Ms. Sugawara.
▲The remodeled interior of the Showa Era house. Time flies when relaxing in this cozy living room.
Originally, jam making was just a hobby for Ms. Sugawara, but after buying too many radishes one day, a thought struck her. "If you can make pickled radish by adding salt, can you make radish jam by adding sugar?" After trying her idea out, she realized it wasn't quite that simple. She didn't give up, however, and began to experiment. She added apples and other ingredients to the mix until she found a radish jam that tasted great. Then, she moved on to onion and eggplant jams. Confident in her product she published her results in a blog and soon gained an audience. From these humble beginnings she opened up the "Chobirico. Jam Institute.”
"I think Hokkaido vegetables are really delicious. So if I can make a jam out of radish or zucchini that helps even one person truly appreciate the taste of Hokkaido veggies, I'm really happy."
The main ingredient of each jam is Hokkaido vegetables. Then Hokkaido fruits are added to adjust the flavor. The granulated sugar used is made from Hokkaido beets, with no unnecessary additives added throughout the process. The vegetables used vary depending on the season, but "Radish and Apple," "Onion and Strawberry," and "Onion and Raspberry" jams are available all year.
▲ The "Vegetable Jam Set" (salt scone and drink included - 550 Yen per person) allows you to try a variety of jams in one sitting.
▲ The "Radish and Apple" jam looks like apple sauce! The sweet radish taste really surprised me, but the flavors combine perfectly and the texture is fantastic.
▲ The "Zucchini and Lemon" jam has an enjoyably rough consistency and a refreshing taste. Also works well on salads!
▲ The "Onion and Raspberry" jam has a berry color but a strong, sweet onion taste. Tastes great with cream cheese!
▲ This "Eggplant and Wine" jam was a surprise! It has a fruity wine aroma, and a sweetness to the eggplant that you wouldn't expect.
The "Jam Shop Original Soda" is a carbonated drink made with a jam base. Tastes great on hot summer days, and in winter it can be enjoyed as a hot beverage.
While I was at the shop writing this article, several visitors came in to eat. The shop was just featured on FM radio, so many newcomers stopped by. This child and his mother came in for a bite and I asked them what drew them to the store. The mother answered "In a shop like this, my son and I can eat knowing that the jams are healthy and the products are all safe."
Because jams are made with preservatives, jams bought here can be safely stored for up to one year. However, the color of the jam will degrade over time. Ms. Sugawara told us "If it's possible, I want each customer to eat the freshest, and most delicious, product possible. So if you buy jam to take home, be sure to buy smaller sizes to get the best flavor."
The cafe portion is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, but you can pick up jams at the shop. For more distant costumers, mail order is another way to get your hands on some delicious jam. Be sure to try these unique and tasty jams for yourself!
● Chobirico. Jam Institue
● Chobirico. Facebook Page
4-12 Kita 25-Jyo Higashi 9-Chome, Higashu-ku, Sapporo
TEL・FAX: (011) 731-3357
■ Hours of Operation: 12:00 - 6:00
■ Cafe is open on Friday and Saturday Only
■ Irregular Holidays
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
※ All photos courtesy of Chobirico. and Hokkaido Likers Writer Takako Chiba.