It may have a whimsical name, but it’s serious business for Jessica Hopkins. In August 2017, Hopkins created Pantless Jams, a line of homemade jams that are stripped of all unnatural ingredients.
The idea for the name came about from a funny family situation. “My daughter was really excited about her baby brother who was on his way,” reminisced Hopkins. “She wanted to earn money so she could buy him things and she set up a lemonade stand outside our house. The only thing was … she didn’t have pants on! She said, ‘It doesn’t matter because no one will see me behind the table anyway,’” Hopkins laughed.
Pantless Jams was a great work solution for Hopkins, who left a full-time career in banking to become a stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Tim, is her partner in the business. “He is my master fruit prepper, jam stirrer, and label sticker,” she said. The couple have two children, Makaylah, 10, and Levi, 22 months. “Levi is the whole reason the business started,” said Hopkins. “I loved my job, my clients and my coworkers. I didn’t get the opportunity to be at home with my daughter though, so we decided it would be best for our family for me to stay home.”
Hopkins became interested in making jam when her dad brought her some peaches one day and asked her to make him some jam. “I had never made jam before. I like to cook, so I thought why not? As I was looking at jam recipes, I found that there was an exuberant amount of sugar in them. I knew I could do better,” said Hopkins.
With a mission to provide a delicious and healthier alternative to traditional jam, Hopkins explained, “Our product is different than grocery store products because it doesn’t have preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. I use lemon and cane sugar, which is not processed as much. I use about one quarter of the sugar of what traditional jam recipes call for,” she explained. “We strip all of that out of ours, and we still have a great tasting product.” Hopkins mentioned that she doesn’t use pectin because it can cause stomach issues for people. “You don’t need to use it to create a gel product. The process just takes a little longer. You have to heat the product to a higher temperature and cook it longer. It’s worth it because it doesn’t have all the garbage in it.”
Hopkins’ products are dairy free, gluten free, nut free, vegan-friendly and never contain artificial ingredients, gels, dyes or preservatives. Hopkins makes six unique flavors that are available year-round: Peach Orange Ginger, Black & Blue Jalapeño, Peach Strawberry Vanilla, Triple Berry (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry), Peach Mango Habanero and Grape Trio. “I roll out seasonal flavors and for special occasions. When I partnered with Holey Toledough, I made Banana Fosters to fill one of their doughnuts. I will release Carmel Apple jam in September and Cran Strawberry in November,” she said.
Hopkins also offers a few flavors in her black label collection including Pineapple Cherry, Banana Fosters, and Blue Honey Lavender. “We do a lot of testing. I love to cook and throw stuff together and see what comes out,” she commented.
Pantless Jams are produced in a commercial kitchen in Ottawa Lake, Mich. Hopkins spends one day a month, for now, in the kitchen at Crossroads Church. “I can make 150 jars of jam in one day, but I will probably have to go two or three days a month soon because we are selling so much,” she said.
Pantless Jams are available online at pantlessjams.com. “I do deliver as long as its in our region,” she mentioned. Hopkins also participates in the Bedford, Sylvania, Perrysburg and Oregon farmers markets and at special events. Her schedule can be found on her website and her Facebook page.
What does the future hold for Pantless Jams? “Eventually we would like to do e-commerce so people can order online, and we can ship it. I am also working to partner with local restaurants. Right now, we are working on T-shirts that say ‘Go Pantless,’ and everyone’s loving them.”
Pantless Jams are not just for toast, try them as a topping for burgers, a glaze for salmon and as a filling for desserts. Here are three ways Hopkins likes to incorporate her jams into dishes.
Lemon Tartlets with Blue Honey Lavender Jam
Mini muffin tin
Circle cookie cutter
Pre-made pie crust
For the Lemon Curd:
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
Heat oven to 425 F. Use a circle cutter and cut pie dough into rounds. Press into mini muffin tins. Bake for 15-17 minutes until crust is golden. Set aside to cool.
Heat lemon juice over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
In a small bowl, combine eggs and yolk. Gradually whisk in the sugar. Slowly pour hot lemon juice into the eggs. Return to pan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of the spoon.
Remove pan from heat and stir in butter. Once melted, stir in cream, vanilla and salt. If the curd doesn’t come together and thicken, return to heat and cook a bit longer, stirring constantly.
Stir the lemon curd into each tartlet shell. Top with dot of Blue Honey Lavender jam and garnish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Black & Blue Jalapeño Burger
Prepare a burger patty your favorite way. Spread with cream cheese, Black & Blue Jalapeño jam, and crispy onion straws.
Banana Fosters Toast
Toast a piece of seeded bread. Spread with peanut butter. Top with Banana Fosters jam (Banana, caramelized brown sugar, dark rum, cinnamon and nutmeg). Drizzle with local honey.