Photos by Collin Richie

The Creatives: Jelly maker Ashley Andermann

Ashley Andermann

Hometown: Baton Rouge
Age: 45
Artistry: Jelly maker
Online: @grinningjupiter_jammery on Instagram

As the glass door swings open, the young clerk at the register calls out across the quiet store. “Ashley! Whatcha got for us this morning?”

“Oh, I don’t know exactly,” says a small woman, barely visible and latched to the large crate making its way into Red Stick Spice Company and out of a bitter winter rain. “A little bit of everything!”

It’s early in the morning and just two days before New Year’s on jelly maker Ashley Andermann’s first delivery since Christmas Eve. Every December day before then, she’s made daily drops, as her jars have flown off the shelves. 

After years of selling at pop-ups and markets, Andermann left her barista job at Brew Ha-Ha! coffee shop in 2015 to focus exclusively on her brand, Grinning Jupiter Jammery.

Since then, the trained photographer and printmaker, who grew up making fresh jams with her parents, has been hard at work producing more than 100 handcrafted flavors of jellies, jams, preserves and pepper jellies for a handful of local stores and a few restaurants and grocery delis, too.

She also shares her methods and most recipes in private classes. “These skills are important to pass on, but also therapeutic,” she says. “A lot of thought happens while I’m cooking.”

Working out of a silver Avion Travel Trailer converted into a kitchen, the food entrepreneur cooks up to 12 batches a day, using fresh fruits sourced ethically from growers or picked by herself and family at her in-laws’ property in the Homochitto National Forest area, a stretch of Mississippi loaded with muscadine, blackberry, crabapples, elderberry and honeysuckle.

The hunt for wild fruits in Homochitto can be just as thrilling and demanding as the cooking and the selling to customers who want to know where and how their jelly is made. “One minute you’ve been on this journey to finally see one, and you think, ‘Oh, you’re such a beautiful blackberry,’ and the next thing you know, you’re absolutely ripped up from the thorns.”

That bitter struggle in making something so sweet is not lost on Andermann, who wears copper-infused arthritis gloves at night after a long day juicing, boiling and stirring in the kitchen. But she finds so much joy in making everything herself—a way to fully experience this hobby she has turned into a cottage industry through years of creativity, craft and patience.

“A little fear will drive you, and it’s OK if it’s an unknown,” Andermann says. “Sometimes the greatest things happen in the unknown. And you encounter the most amazing people who help along the way.”