FLORENCE — What started off as a hobby has turned into a creative food venture for Cathy Holsten, of Florence, who will host a Christmas Market this Saturday.
Holsten, who always loved canning produce for her husband, Jerry, and sons Schuyler and Alex, has turned a hobby into a business called Cathy’s Jammin’ Jelly Stand. She has also created a niche in the jelly and jam market by using a wide assortment of alcohol in her products.
She said she began making alcohol-based jams and jellies because her son attended an end-of-the-season farmers’ market and bought a truckload of produce. Her decision to can the produce was the catalyst that changed everything.
“I ran out of cider vinegar and I had a bottle of wine I didn’t like,” Holsten noted. “We were making pepper jelly and I just dumped it in there. And, it was really good.
“Then, we moved on to other things,” she continued. “Someone said, ‘you should sell this.’ And I thought ‘that’s a good idea.’”
Holsten, a retired educator, began selling her wares for the first time three years ago at the Florence 155th Anniversary Celebration.
“I set up there while I was checking other vendors and it went over really well,” she said. “Now we are at the beginning of our third year and it’s probably not really a hobby so much anymore. I’ve expanded from five or six blends to over 75, and it’s still growing.”
She added she is open to making all types of jam and jelly blends. So far, she is making jams and jellies with wine, bourbon, vodka, brandy and various whiskeys.
“Pretty much, if you can get it at a bar, we can put it in a jar,” she said smiling. “It’s one of these things that when you get into these little markets, you have to be unique, you have to be tangible and you have to be small.”
A customer favorite is Peach Bourbon. Other blends include Berry Cherry Moscato, Peppery Honey Bourbon Onion, Bird Dog Maple Whiskey with Apples, Razzle Dazzle Margarita Jam and Tipsy Chocolate Covered Cherry Jam.
A new jam, White Chocolate Strawberry Wine, is credited to Holsten’s sister-in-law, Luesa Schader-Fethke, who brought a bottle from Windy Wine Co. for Thanksgiving. The pair decided to use the strawberry wine to make the new jam blend.
Holsten will be selling her jams and jellies along with Grumpy Gourmet Spice mixes made by son Schuyler and Big Al’s Gourmet Popcorn made by son Alex from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the family’s third annual Country Christmas Market on their farm at 6079 state Route 135 near Florence.
The sale will also include 15 other vendors who will have booths set up around the Holsten home and in the basement. Vendors will have repurposed items and crafts, jewelry, skin care items, quilts and other gifts for sale.
The West Side Grill Barbecue food truck, of Florence, will also be on hand.
“They will be selling their food and their sauces,” Holsten said. “We also do the Back Porch Coffee Bar and Schuyler will do lattes and cold brews. That will be in the basement kitchen in a sitting area.”
For more information,t call Holsten at 660-287-0242 or like the Cathy’s Jammin’ Jelly Stand Facebook page.