A mixture of juices, teas, and fruits simmer in black pots in the kitchen. A heavenly spiced scent fills the room.
Peering over the stove is Jasmin, a trained and experienced cook, who has been trying to keep herself busy since the coronavirus hit last March and left her unemployed.
A graduate from the Art Institute of Colorado, Jasmin’s second home has been in the kitchen since 2014. Catering, expoing, cooking, prepping, baking — all put on pause as the restaurant industry had to close its doors (twice) and reduce staff.
In the event to keep her creativity and skills on point, Jasmin spent 2020 formulating a new business idea: Berry Simple.
“I always wanted something that was mine,” Jasmin says. “I figured if I could make it through COVID[-19], I could make it through anything.
“I had a concept of ‘How can I start a small piece of what I want to do for the future?’ I want my own restaurant, so I started off with my own little brand and went from there.”
She began preserving fruit in college as a way to not waste produce and to keep an ingredient around that could be used in multiple ways. In November, she launched Berry Simple and sells a collection of jams, jellies, gluten-free cookies, pet treats, and spray-on hand sanitizers. Beginning her business had its constraints though.
Thanks to the Cottage Food Act (which differs from state to state), Jasmin is allowed to create her products in her home kitchen but cannot sell outside of Colorado. In order to sell outside of the state, she must obtain a retail license (an affordable $50) but make it in a commissary kitchen (at least $1,000 monthly commitment.) It’s quite an investment for a start-up that runs on a team of one.
On a bright sunny Friday morning in Colorado Springs, Jasmin is experimenting with quince, a cross between a pear and an apple, for a custom order. She plans to make something sweet and savory.
In one pot, quince paste, pear juice, apple juice, and sugar boil. In another, organic quince tea reduces like a compote with a mixture of red pear, vanilla extract, balsamic vinegar, lime, and spices. Jasmin stirs in fruit pectin, a natural thickener that lends jams and jellies its consistency, and adds a spoonful of the mixture into a metal ramekin that she pops into the refrigerator. A few minutes later, she opens the door to see if it’s ready to be poured into canning jars.
When the consistency is just right, Jasmin ladles the sweet jam and savory jelly into a jar through a funnel and then screws the lid on. She then slowly boils the jars in a large pot to create pressure and push out any trapped air in the jar. After an hour or so, once the jars have cooled down, they are ready to be plastic sealed, labeled, and packaged for shipping.
Berry Simple has lots of exciting ideas in the future (such as a possible partnership with DoorDash), fun holiday bundles, and more. There is also a recycling program where if customers return jars, they will receive $1.50 off their next purchase. Check out berry-simple.com, and discover new and tasty Colorado-made treats today.