When people tell Chelsea Scott they love the unique flavors of her jams, she doesn’t understand the compliment. Bourbon-blueberry and pear-ginger seem perfectly normal to her.
“They’re flavor combinations that I already know and love,” she says.
Since July, Scott has been selling canned goods and pastries through a Pump Up the Jam label she’s brought to bakeries, breweries, cafes, and other shops around D.C.
In addition to an online store selling jam in flavors that run the gamut from caramel apple to cara cara creamsicle marmalade, Scott sells her jams in-person at Slipstream, Baked & Wired, and Shop Made in D.C. She also folds preserves into her baking projects, creating pastries like huckleberry jam muffins and marmalade morning buns that she sees as a gateway to the jarred products.
“Of course you want a chocolate raspberry brownie,” she says. “Get them hooked on that, and they’ll come back and buy a jar.”
Scott moved from Southern California to D.C. in 2019, “for love,” she explains. Between culinary school in San Diego and pastry jobs in Los Angeles, she says she’s always prized working with local produce. Most of Pump Up the Jam’s flavors use fruit from local farmers such as Earth N Eats, in Pennsylvania, or Black Rock Orchard and Moon Valley Farm, both in Maryland.
Scott started making preserves while running the food program for Go Get Em Tiger, a mini-chain of coffee shops based in Los Angeles. She’d put up jam in the summer, when produce was abundant and cheap, to serve during the winter months. Scott fell in love with canning and pondered starting a side business making jam, but was always too busy to swing it, even after moving to D.C. When the pandemic hit, she was laid off from her job as head chef of a D.C. cafe, and suddenly she had the time — and the need — for a side hustle.
The Mid-Atlantic growing season is shorter than the West Coast’s, and she knew it’d be hard to put up enough jam during the summer to last through the winter, but she decided to give it a try. She’s already run through much of the jam she canned this summer. The plum-rhubarb — an unplanned pairing born of too-sweet plums and green, unsightly rhubarb — and white peach rosé are gone, at least until the fruit is back in season.
Faced with dwindling inventory, a happy problem for any budding small business, Scott loosened her sourcing strictures a bit. Now, she ships citrus from California to make her cara cara creamsicle marmalade, though she’s still buying from small, organic farms like the ones she uses in D.C.
“I could come up with a bunch of different apple and pear flavors, but how much do people really want to buy?” she says.
Hoping to grow her business, Scott envisions more pantry items in her online store, like Linzer cookie kits or biscuit mixes. Maybe a spot at a farmers market, coming “full circle” by selling her jam next to the farmers who harvest the fruit. And hopefully, down the road, a brick-and-mortar shop selling pastries and jams. For now, customers can find her jams online or at partnered retailers, and pastries such as jammy morning buns or blood orange poppyseed scones at pop-ups (announced on Instagram).