Maple Street Jam Co. Born Straight out of Pandemic Panic!

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Photo by Caitlin Girdwood

Like a lot of people during the pandemic, Caitlin Girdwood found herself in a financial jam.

With her photography career on hold, she picked up an old hobby to pay the bills … and the results were sweeter than she expected.

Together with her mom (and frequent traveling companion), Donna Varley, Girdwood began whipping up fruits spreads in her kitchen to compliment her afternoon tea and toast. Friends and relatives were so stuck on the confections, the pair decided to go pro.

That’s how Maple Street Jam Co. was born.

Unlike jelly, which is made from juice, jam utilizes crushed or pureed fruit.
Right now, the business sells four flavors made in small batches: Apple Pie, Blueberry Lemon, HoneyRum Strawberry and Pepper Jam. Seasonal flavors, including Christmas Morning, a combination of strawberries, cranberries, oranges and holiday baking spices – is on the way.

“Jam is so creative. You can do so much with it,” says Girdwood, 35, of Glenshaw. “People are always giving me new ideas.”
The mother-and-daughter team research various recipes, Frankenstein them together and add personal touches gleaned from their pre-COVID adventures through Europe. There are no preservatives included, so the FDA-recommended shelf-life on the jam is one year for an unopened jar, one month for one that’s been dipped into.
Although a new kid on the block, Maple Street Jam Co. is already collaborating with area purveyors to create unique taste experiences. Maggie’s Farm Spiced Rum is an ingredient in their HoneyRum and they’re teaming up with Lucky Sign Spirits to create a citrus marmalade.

The jam, packaged in 8-ounce jars emblazoned with two peacocks, is sold online and at area shops such as love Pittsburgh, Niche and Gifted Hands. Harvie Farms, a Pittsburgh-based company that allows folks to digitally customize their farm-share box with a variety of produce, bread, meat, eggs and dairy products, will soon feature Maple Street Jam.

Girdwood also makes local deliveries and often sets up shop in her driveway, recreating the makeshift lemonade stands of her youth in a fun, socially distanced environment.
She says enjoying hot beverages and dainty pastries topped with jam is another way to capture the wonder of childhood. So, go ahead: stock up on jam, adopt a British accent, host an adult tea party and make the most of a global pandemic.
Photos courtesy of Caitlin Girdwood