Next stop on the list of artisans to visit, SOLA with their slogan, “SOLA will make your taste buds sing”. SOLA has been participating in the Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market (OHGFAM) since their start, over three years ago. Now they participate in over 16 farmers markets in and around the Orange County area. We are happy to report that the OHGFAM was one of the first markets they joined, and we have watched them grown and add to the variety of offerings they provide each week. Known for their sweet and savory jams with names like Cheeky Kiwi and Mango Tango, it is hard not to stop by their booth every Saturday to see what’s new.
We met with Armita Fazeli and her husband Steve at their home in Irvine. Armita, the face behind SOLA has a Cottage Food Permit, which allows her to produce her jams, salsas, relishes, and sauces from their home kitchen. They also use The Hood Commercial Kitchen in Costa Mesa to produce their Shanghai Express, which is made with Fresno Red Peppers and Apples. Armita says that she does not use any pectin in her jams, only sugar. They also use half the mount of cane sugar that most commercial jams use. Each 10oz jar contains 1 pound of fruit.
SOLA means “By Herself” in Italian. Armita came up with the name because she was doing everything by herself to make her preserves… from the shopping of the ingredients, to the cooking, and to the canning and labeling. Originally from Denmark, Armita moved to the Los Angeles area when she was 18, enjoying the southern California lifestyle. When tragedy hit her family and her father unexpectedly passed away 4 years ago, she traveled back home to Denmark to visit her mother. While there, she spent some time with a good friend, and that’s where she learned how to make jams. She says that she makes her jams the European way, with no pectin and half the amount of sugar. She has always loved to cook, and once the economy crashed, she decided to leave the banking industry and create a business doing what she loved- cooking.
In addition to their jams and sauces, SOLA also has a new line of sweet potato chips, inspired by Armita’s addition to sweet potato fries. If you haven’t tried them, you will want to pick up a bag on your next visit to the OHGFAM. SOLA can only be found in Orange County farmers markets, so stop by this Saturday to pick up a jar, or two!