A gift bag of muscadines led to Fayetteville native’s fruit-spread business

Georgia Jams fruit spreads come in full-size jars, but also in mini jars perfect for picnics and charcuterie boards. Courtesy of Hype
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Georgia Jams fruit spreads come in full-size jars, but also in mini jars perfect for picnics and charcuterie boards. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Credit: Hype Group

It was not being able to get a job as a cake decorator at a grocery store that started Lori Bean on the road to creating a company that offers more than a dozen low-sugar spreads, all made with Georgia fruit.

Bean graduated from the Florida Culinary Institute in 2008, not a great year for the economy, and a tough time to find a job. She moved back home to Fayetteville, and began working as a contract baker for Fayette Senior Services. She made bagels, rolls and desserts. And, once a week, she held a bake sale.

One day, a family friend arrived with a big bag of muscadines. Bean told her father, David Bean, that she wanted to try her hand at turning those muscadines into jelly, and he got out her great-grandmother’s canning tools and the “Ball Blue Book of Preserving.”

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Lori Bean of Georgia Jams finishes a batch of spread featuring blueberries and wild honey. Courtesy of Michelle McMichael

Credit: Michelle McMichael

Lori Bean of Georgia Jams finishes a batch of spread featuring blueberries and wild honey. Courtesy of Michelle McMichael
Caption
Lori Bean of Georgia Jams finishes a batch of spread featuring blueberries and wild honey. Courtesy of Michelle McMichael

Credit: Michelle McMichael

Credit: Michelle McMichael

“I must have made every error you could make, including some batches that were inedible,” she said. “But, I liked the process, and the scientific nature of making jelly. I kept at it until I got better.

“The next year, I started working with blueberries, and taking the jam to my weekly bake sale. Then, I met Tricia Stearns, who was starting the Peachtree City Farmers Market, and I started selling my bread and jam there.”

Selling at the market was a good lesson in what would sell and the value of producing a product that would keep for more than a day or two. “Once I filled my freezer with leftover bread and all the croutons and breadcrumbs I could ever use, I decided to just sell jams and jellies,” Bean said.

And, so, she founded Georgia Jams in 2012.

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All Georgia Jams spreads, including this wild blackberry spread, are made with Georgia-grown fruit. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

All Georgia Jams spreads, including this wild blackberry spread, are made with Georgia-grown fruit. Courtesy of Hype
Caption
All Georgia Jams spreads, including this wild blackberry spread, are made with Georgia-grown fruit. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Credit: Hype Group

Bean often has to explain the difference between a fruit spread and a jam. The name “Georgia Jams” has a nice ring to it, but she’s actually not making jam, which has a precise legal definition set by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and requires a particular balance of fruit to sugar.

She makes her spreads with Pomona’s universal pectin, which allows her to use less sugar than traditional pectin. “What’s fantastic about sourcing fruit locally and in season is that everything is naturally sweet,” Bean said. “I don’t have to add much sugar, and can make a product that’s really fresh tasting.”

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Georgia Jams’ lemon ginger spread can be used as a glaze, as part of a cheeseboard, or stirred into a mug of hot tea. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Georgia Jams’ lemon ginger spread can be used as a glaze, as part of a cheeseboard, or stirred into a mug of hot tea. Courtesy of Hype
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Georgia Jams’ lemon ginger spread can be used as a glaze, as part of a cheeseboard, or stirred into a mug of hot tea. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Credit: Hype Group

She started Georgia Jams with spreads made from the two fruits she knew best — muscadines and blueberries. Then, she started adding other fruits by following the seasons. Many of her recipes were inspired by the ones her great-grandmother used. “I remember her sitting down with a bucket and working with her homegrown pears, chipping pieces of pear off the core,” Bean said. “She would slow-cook the pear chips with tons and tons of sugar. We still cut up our pears by hand, but I make my vanilla pear spread with just a little bit of sugar.”

In 2017, the business expanded to include Brook Herren, a longtime Fayetteville school friend. Bean handles the creative side, while Herren handles the business side.

Bean said selling at the Peachtree City market connected her to other people in the food industry. Cheesemaker Jenny O’Connor of Capra Gia introduced her to Alon’s, where her spreads are still sold today.

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Partner Brook Herren handles the business side of Georgia Jams. Courtesy of Ann Pearson

Credit: Ann Pearson

Partner Brook Herren handles the business side of Georgia Jams. Courtesy of Ann Pearson
Caption
Partner Brook Herren handles the business side of Georgia Jams. Courtesy of Ann Pearson

Credit: Ann Pearson

Credit: Ann Pearson

Winning a Made in the South award from Garden & Gun magazine helped the company gain national recognition.

“And, we work with culinary partners, like 11th and Bay Southern Table in Columbus, where they serve our apple spread with their biscuits,” Herren said. “Lori really loves working with chefs, tossing around ideas for using the spreads.”

Bean and Herren also credit Leighanne Schneider of Doublefly Design and Paul Bowman, for the artwork and design of the Georgia Jams labels.

And, then there’s the man who started her on the path to making fruit spreads. “I know my dad (who died in 2018) would be proud of where I am today,” Bean said. “My parents have always supported and encouraged my jam endeavors, and I wouldn’t be able to keep doing what I love today if it weren’t for them.”

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Georgia Jams also produces savory spreads, including one made with Yuengling lager and garlic. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Georgia Jams also produces savory spreads, including one made with Yuengling lager and garlic. Courtesy of Hype
Caption
Georgia Jams also produces savory spreads, including one made with Yuengling lager and garlic. Courtesy of Hype

Credit: Hype Group

Credit: Hype Group

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