Prospect Jam Co. is a small business based in Cincinnati. Owner, Emily Hutton, makes small-batch preserves with natural ingredients. We interviewed this new business owner about her delicious jams! Meet Prospect Jam Co. on June 3 at our Summer Maker Mart at Strongwater Columbus!
Tell us about your business (name, location, background, mission, etc.).
Prospect Jam Co. is an artisan preserve company based in Cincinnati, Ohio. We make Copper Crafted, Small-Batch Preserves. PJco specializes in a variety of jams and marmalades with a focus on seasonal and intentionally unique flavors.
We take pride in our process. Our preserves are cooked in copper pots and produced in small batches. By crafting in the traditional French method, we are able to extract only the natural pectin within the fruit itself, without the addition of preservatives. We focus on the details, from the ingredients we use, to our packaging, to how we prepare each fruit before preservation. We believe in sourcing organic and local ingredients when we can.
We’re brand new (!) and we’re super excited to be a part of the Ohio maker community. You can currently find selections of our preserves at the following retailers in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio: Pistacia Vera (Columbus), The Rhined, Rooted Juicery, Deerhaus Decor and Mainwood Pastry. Keep a look out for us at local fleas and markets too!
What drew you to your craft?
It has been such an amazing journey and a fairly organic one. Honestly, I needed every stepping stone to get where I am today, and look forward to many more. It started baking beside my grandmother. I always loved being her helper when she let me. I loved everything about the art of baking and its process. The more we spent time in the kitchen together the more I wanted to help out. When it came to settling on a program in college; it was the same commitment to process that came with making, that drew me to visual art. It became clear that working with my hands was how I liked to work, interacting with and touching the materials themselves. I became fond of organic materials specifically, from there, it only made sense that I explore working in clay. I graduated with a BFA in ceramics from The Ohio State University. There, I had been making things out of clay that looked liked edible pastries. I knew it was time to start working in the food industry, in whatever capacity I could get.
I am very fortunate to have connected with two amazing, hard-working, family owned businesses in the years following. Both, The Northstar Cafe and Pistacia Vera, in Columbus provided me with experience in the food world. While balancing teaching ceramics at a small studio and learning the workings of the restaurant, I fell in love with the environment and the hospitality industry. At that point, the opportunity to work full time in the pastry kitchen presented itself, of course I said yes. There I learned everything I could and continued to pursue my interests in food in whatever spare time I had. Eventually, I was given the opportunity to lead a team of people doing the thing I was most passionate about, making things like cake, cookies, dough and jam, as well as creating experiences for our guests.
My husband and I had the opportunity to move to Cincinnati in 2015 and I couldn’t say no. The culinary scene here is thriving with independent business and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The preserve business was a natural transition from the pastry gig, where I had done development for a line of jam and marmalades. The experience I had working with materials and ingredients in the past and the relationship between them, played a role in deciding to pursue my interest in preservation. It’s almost as if every batch has its own identity, just as a single platter or mug can have its own. For me, the joy is in nurturing every batch to create something lovely.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
I’ve made a lot of things, in lots of mediums at this point. Many of them on a crazy, conceptual idea. ( i.e. a chocolate molded Barbie filled with rendered bacon fat - not intended for consumption, to be clear, but now that I think about it…) My favorite is a simple brioche dough. I still enjoy baking it and eating it, topped with a little salt and sugar with a PJco seasonal jam. Though, the marmalades tend to be my favorite. In a way, it becomes a variation on the Orange Rolls I used to make with my Grandmother every holiday.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I had a decent rock collection so naturally I wanted to be a geologist. I spent a lot of time looking at sand underneath microscopes and recording what part of the world it came from and the minerals it was composed of. Looking back, my experiences in some way have shaped who I am and what I do today. I was able to apply my interest in materials to ceramics previously. Now I get to apply the science to ingredients and fruit through cooking and pastry.
What is your creative process?
I’m a Virgo so, lots of list making. Brainstorming combined with shopping at farmers markets and liquor stores for inspiration. I always tell people I build the jam flavors like I would build a cocktail, so that's where the liquor piece come in. It also comes with a fair amount of testing, adding layers of flavors or ingredients and finding the most dynamic, unique and satisfying one. I find a lot of inspiration through travel and the eating experiences I have had and the cocktails I’ve imbibed.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Of course, people say this all the time but truly, you will learn invaluable lessons from making mistakes and experiencing failure. Take those, apply what you have learned and move forward.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
My father is an artist, so I grew up around art. Throughout my life, I’ve continued to surround myself with people that make art in some way, shape, or form. Not only do I appreciate art, but I feel it is important to support artists because those are the people that fuel my own creativity and the communities around them. The makers, whether that be a ceramicist, a chef, a painter or an artisan bread baker, these are the people that help shape the culture within our state and beyond.
Why do you love doing what you do?
I am continuously grateful for the opportunity to get to do what I do. To be a maker. The support I have received from my husband, small business owners, professors and family where they have provided mentorship, education and encouragement is incredible. I love the process, the continuous learning and the explorative nature of being a business owner and jam maker. The cooking part, especially pastry and sweet things, requires intuition and patience. I get to learn and practice both of those too. I get the opportunity to teach and learn about flavors and ingredients simultaneously. I get to continue exploring. I get to share it with others, in hopes of inspiring someone else or simply creating a moment of enjoyment. To be able to share and create an experience through a tiny detail that might be tucked on a cheese board or hidden in a layer of cake. Or maybe the preserve is the star of the show on morning toast. These are the things that make it rewarding.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
I don’t know how qualified I am to be giving advice, I am a brand new business owner! The one thing I will say is when you know you are passionate about something, when something feels just right when you’re participating in it, pursue that. Pursue the things that your intuition, mind and body are telling you to do and commit to it.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
I have lived in Ohio my whole life. I’ve gotten to witness its growth as a state. I am proud to see national recognition for the artisans and businesses that have created something noteworthy. I also love seeing connections that business owners and organizations, such as Ohio Explored, are providing to link more of our Ohio cities together. Moving from Columbus to Cincinnati, I had hoped to see more of a connection between the two cities and it is happening. I can’t wait to see how strong our mighty Ohio community can grow.