Story and Photography by: Nancy Dow
With the last name Jelly, how do you not use that as a calling?
Growing up on a farm with giant gardens, apple trees and a mother who canned everything, Catherine is clearly a natural in the canning and preserving of fresh local ingredients.
The Jelly Girls name originated from the combination of the four Jelly sisters. Learning and sharing with each other as a hobby and gift giving, the little preserve business is quickly gaining popularity near and far. Setting up at local shows and then moving on to a permanent booth display at The St. Jacobs Farmers Market, the jams and jellies are commonly picked up from locals and travellers as far as Chile, Germany and Ireland. Locally around Brantford the jars can be found at restaurants like The Kitchen and The Acorn and a booth display at Oakhill Urban Market.
The little jars that are stacked up tall all possess a pretty little label with a picture of the original Mrs. Betty Jelly herself. Always cooking up a storm in the kitchen, Betty would always have a homemade dessert to be served after a classic meat and potato meal. As the original meals did, the jellies and jams that Catherine is creating all use as much local ingredients as possible. If the fruits are not grown in her own garden Catherine is sure to support other local area farms and growers.
Josmar Acres in Ancaster supplies strawberries, Saskatoon berries which are home grown in Waterford as well as apples, pears, mulberries and peppers. All of these ingredients are garden grown which provide as much natural flavour while using as little to no chemicals as possible.
Branching out and experimenting with wine incorporated jellies, Catherine is working closely with Rush Creek Winery in Aylmer. They provide all natural black currants, blackberries, raspberries and the specialty Concord grapes used in the highly sought after and highly delicious Uncle Grape Jelly. (Appropriately named after the loving family member.) The jelly making process is painstakingly time consuming but produces the absolute best results. In the grape jelly each of the grape skins are removed by hand as well as the seeds being removed just as carefully.
The apple jelly goes through just as many steps along the way to each jar. Each apple is hand peeled and cut in order to prepare it for the cider press. After being pressed, the leftovers are cooked down and spun in a hand wound separator to remove the seeds and mash. In order to use as much as possible without wasting it, the mash is then turned into the Caramel Apple jam and even goes in the BBQ sauces.
The Mennonite cider press that is used is also a great connection to the local scene in St Jacobs. The Jelly Girls have had a permanent booth in the Peddlers Village building for over a year opening every Tuesday in the summer and regularly on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The spot there was an easy decision. Close to some of the best locally and naturally grown ingredients and making great connections with local area growers produces nothing but the best quality products.
For some shopping close to Brantford the newest stall style vendor shopping at The Oakhill Urban Market is stocked with a wide assortment of jars, changing with every season. Tucked on the cupboard shelves you can find individual jars in large or small sizes and packaged together pairings wrapped nicely for gift giving this Holiday season.
If you are gift giving or looking to create a Gourmet style meal with ease this Holiday consider using some preserves in a new and unique way. Add the Christmas Jam to a turkey sandwich, the Strawberry Lavender Jam as a topping for cheesecake or the new wine jellies or a pepper jelly as a delicious addition to a simple charcuterie board.
Listening to Catherine tell her story, you can hear the passion she has found herself in.
“I just love what I’m doing” and you can taste it in every jar.