By Kate Marlow
It all started with a love of black currants. Soon after graduating from grad school, Michael Fraley, founder and jam-maker extraordinaire of Green Jam Man, stumbled upon an amazing black currant jam at the Burlington Farmer’s Market. When he returned the following week to buy another jar, it was sold out. When he asked when they would have more in stock, Michael was confronted by the harsh reality of eating local: there were no more currants, so no more jam until next season. He searched for good black currant jam in grocery stores, but it just wasn’t the same. So he decided to make his own. He quickly discovered that eating local fruit when it is in season is so much better—and making jam from that fruit is incredible. Friends discovered his talent for making jam and began gifting him fruit—and Green Jam Man was born.
Michael made conscious choices when he began about his principles. If the fruit can be grown in Vermont, he would source it locally. He would approach jam and marmalades differently, giving consumers fresh new flavors like Apricot Cherry Rhubarb and Cinnamon Plum. And he would work in small batches to keep the authenticity of his process. Michael combines a traditional approach of adding sugar with fruit at the beginning of the cooking process with a newer method of adding more sugar and pectin at the end of the process to help the jam set. In the end, this yields intense flavors with less added sugar, letting the fruit in the jams really stand out on its own.
The first time Michael went to the Burlington Farmers’ Market to sell his jam, he sold 22 jars. This year he estimates that he will make 6,000 jars of jam. Accolades like The Good Food Award that recognized Green Jam Man in January has definitely impacted his sales, and with good reason. Michael brings a level of social consciousness and care to all of the jams and marmalades that he creates. So, if you’re into local, sustainable food, Green Jam Man is a label you need to add to your pantry—and your toast will thank you.