Masters Home Preserves

INTERVIEW: Donna Ballenger

Why did you start your business?

"My cousin Cathy (my business partner) started trying some of the pepper jams because she bought a jar at one of our Craft Fairs that we were attending with our paper crafts. We liked it, but thought it could have a little more kick, so she started playing around with the recipes and we found one we liked, then Cathy said, I wonder if we could sell this at like a Farmers Market? That was in 2020 or 2011, we gave up on paper crafting and bought some canning jars and just started trying our hands at everything jam."

What is your most popular product?

"Our most popular flavors would have to be our traditional flavors... blackberry, strawberry, peach, apple butter, black raspberry and of course our famous pepper jams... All of the flavors of the pepper jams sell about the same amount. But then again, our strawberry margarita, our peach bourbon and pineapple mango and man other flavors fly off the table every week. We offer about 9 or 10 of the spicy varieties. We also have a few savory offerings such as strawberry basil. It honestly depends on the week what the flavor is though. Some weeks it's one and the next it's another."

What is your favorite part of the Fishers Farmers Market?

"I love the Fishers Farmers Market the most because of the customers I have come to know. I have one special customer/friend (now) from Saudi Arabia, she loves the F.R.O.G. jam and came every week for the past couple of years, sadly she had to go back to Saudi Arabia at the end of last year and I was afraid I would nevr see her again... But thankfully, she was able to secure a job back here in Indy and I got to see her a couple of weeks ago. I have made some lasting friendships with cusomters and vendors alike. I am usually tired by the end of the market season, but truly miss all my vendor friends and customers and am usually anxiously awaiting the beginning of the new market season."

What else do you want customers to know about your business?

"I want everyone to know that my cousin Cathy (my business partner) and I love every jar of jam we make. We do not sell anything that we do not make and our love of canning and preserving has been handed down by many generations, especially our grandmother Celia, who is our inspiration and who we dedicate our jam skills to."