Preserving the Past: Mennonite-Made Jam Recipes That Live On

It was the summer of 1995 in Western Maryland. Grandma Mattie stood beside her son-in-law Urie Kanagy as they mixed, cooked, and taste-tested jams and jellies.

Many seasons had changed in Mattie’s life, including growing up post the Great Depression, facing World War II, and traumatically losing her husband, Melvin.

But with years of hardship behind her, this particular season left 61-year-old Mattie tasting the sweeter things in life—preserves of all flavors and colors.

Having grown up Amish, Mattie understood a lifestyle of living off the land.

As she later transitioned to the Mennonite culture, Mattie never lost touch with what it meant to preserve the fresh flavors of the past without the added preservatives of the present.

Collaborating with a son Donald Yoder and two son-in-laws, Raymond Fisher and Urie Kanagy, “Grandma’s” jams were truthfully a mix of family recipes.

A blend of the best recipes, Grandma’s Jam House was born in the basement of Mattie’s own home in 1995.

Tried and True Recipes

Taste-tested by Grandma Mattie and her family, plus countless customers, Grandma’s house couldn’t contain her jam-making as her business expanded.

A combination of the freshest fruit and the fewest ingredients possible, it didn’t take long for others to start serving Grandma’s jam.

This sweet dilemma led to adding another building on Mattie’s property.

From one wholesale location in Maryland to 200 retail locations, Grandma’s Jam House spread out into dozens of stores across the East coast and the Midwest.

No matter the flavor, Grandma Mattie’s recipes were preserving the past in a tasteful and refreshing way.

Grandma’s Legacy

Like all good things, Grandma Mattie’s life came to an end in 2012.

It was once again a season of change for Mattie, jarring the family she left behind.

With the loss of Grandma’s dear presence, Mattie’s son-in-law Urie Kanagy took over the business with his son Jason. The beauty was that even in Mattie’s passing, the location of Grandma’s Jam House remained the same.

Today eight employees continue to operate out of the same building made to accommodate the business’ first expansion.

Sorting, cooking, and canning fresh fruit and other ingredients is all done by hand to this day.

And customers still taste the difference in every bite.

It’s hard to beat homemade preserves, and at Grandma’s Jam House, we proudly carry on that “fresh-taste legacy” Grandma Mattie left behind.

Grandma only offered the sweetest and best jams and jellies at her table. So, pull up a chair and join Grandma’s family as we continue spreading the love—one handmade jar of preserves at a time.