Sell Homemade Jams and Jellies at Your Local Market
Written By: Shirley Splittstoesser, Grit Blogger
Americans are hungry for quality, homemade goods, and people with a passion for cooking are filling that flavorful niche. Treats such as Meaner’n a Snake Pickles, Hot Pepper Jelly and Cobbler in a Jar, previously served only at the kitchen table, are now big sellers at market days, farmers’ markets and even craft sales. And part of this new culinary experience, which actually harks back to the way humans have shopped for millennia, includes time spent negotiating in lively vendor-buyer interactions. Learn how to sell homemade jams and jellies at your local market, and it might just turn into a profitable little business.
Deep in the heart of Texas
Don and Marsha Bales of San Antonio decided four years ago to test their local niche. They put 10 dozen jars of homemade goodies – cobbler in a jar, grape jelly, and strawberry and peach jam – into their van and set up a booth at Wimberley Market Days in Wimberley, Texas. The Bales’ fresh-tasting jams and jellies were an immediate hit.
As their part-time hobby grew into a full-time business, they expanded their menu and number of venues. Today, their brochure lists 31 items including old favorites like their pepper jellies and other intriguing treats with names like Cowboy Candy and Mesquite Bean Jelly.
At the same time, the Bales added several additional market day events to their schedule. Committed to face-to-face sales at regional shows, the couple’s goods are available through their roving sales booth, in spite of inventory requests from commercial establishments, and they now offer shipping through their website. Repeat customers use e-mail to request specific flavors at future shows.
Find your flavor
Don and Marsha suggest entrepreneurs start with established recipes and carefully use life experiences to create winning flavors. Hot Pepper Jelly is by far their best-seller. The pepper taste hits different parts of the palate, and the flavors take a couple of minutes to come through. The couple uses a mix of jalapeño, Anaheim, serrano, habanero and bell peppers. Another pepper jelly, Raspberry Arbol, is the couple’s second-highest selling product.
The Bales also suggest including some unique, local flavors such as Mustang Grape Jelly, a name intriguing enough to attract people who like to try new foods. Mustang Grape Jelly is named for grapes eaten by wild horses in the bygone era. From the scruffy tree that’s ubiquitous in their area, Don and Marsha have developed Mesquite Bean Jelly. People will say, “Mesquite Bean Jelly! You mean you can do something with that funky tree?” Another unique and unexpected flavor is Texas Citrus Marmalade, using Texas red grapefruit, oranges and lemons for a flavorful treat that is quite different from the recipes developed years ago in England and France.