The J'Ellen Story
I started canning a decade ago, after coming home from a bountiful u-pick strawberry patch in North Carolina with 10 pounds, a half-pound of which I put to good use in strawberry shortcakes. What to do with the rest? I wondered. Having a moderate level of competence and a high level of confidence in the kitchen, I set to work teaching myself how to can strawberry jam. Since that first batch, I have branched out and now make 5 flavors of jam—strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry jalapeño, and pear ginger—as well as salsa. I look forward to expanding the repertoire further through customer requests like cherry vanilla jam or the bumper crops of friends who find themselves knee-deep in plums or kumquats when the tree in the backyard explodes.
I love the whole process: picking the fruit, prepping the fruit, making jam in small batches, and the canning. I have given away hundreds of jars as hostess and holiday gifts over the years. When people came a-calling for more, I decided it was high time to start J’ellen. At J’ellen, we make jams, jellies, and salsas featuring local North Carolina produce. It is my goal to preserve the abundance of the season in small batches. My daughter once asked, “What would grow if we planted a jar of J’ellen?” A J’ellen tree? A J’ellen factory? Well, we’ve planted the jar, and now we are excited to see what grows.