July 31st, 2021

Alchemist’s Jam: downtown McMinnville’s new sweet spot

Jennifer and Danny are ready to greet the hungry and the curious. All photos by Emily Teel.

There’s a sweet new destination in downtown McMinnville. Beloved farmers market vendors Danny Roberts and Jennifer Fisher have opened an inviting storefront and production space to house their five year old artisan preserve company, Alchemist’s Jam. 

Since they sold their first jar, the couple has run the business as guests in restaurant kitchens, subletting space during the quiet hours. Now, they have a home entirely their own. Located at 207 NE Ford Street, the shop is a treasury of the small batch and the handmade. 

Antique wooden sideboards cradle crocks of smooth wooden spoons; hand carved butter molds; and mustard, bitters, and sachets of tea from fellow artisan producers. Beyond the edible, the shop’s contents speak to Roberts’ and Fisher’s commitment to slow living, seasonality and sustainability. There are cookbooks, fermentation guides, and books on mending and canning. Cakes of dishwashing soap, beeswax candles, colorful handmade brooms, and locally-grown bouquets promise a lifestyle that is practical, but beautiful. 

It’s the same ethos reflected in their jams. Narrow wall-mounted shelves hold rows of white-capped jars and each one is labeled with one of  Jennifer’s distinctive illustrations. Butterflies and sunny orbs of fruit decorate the peach habanero, a bluebird perched among roses graces the raspberry cardamom rosehip, and on the jars of mixed Oregon berry, a smiling sun. 

Inside the jars are locally-grown fruits, organic cane sugar, herbs, and spices. They cook each batch in copper pots, ten pounds of fruit at a time. As the company has grown, the couple has resisted outsourcing production, preferring to keep charge of the cooking process and also picking their own fruit when time allows. “We make it all ourselves,” says Danny. 

Having a shop of their own offers them a new lens for creativity. For Danny, that means baking up sourdough breads, biscuits and pastries made to compliment their jam. For Jennifer, it’s the flexibility to experiment. 

It gives them the freedom “to try this weird rhubarb lemon thyme jam and see how it goes.” A departure, she said, from the consistent lineup they felt responsible to produce for their three farmer’s markets, wholesale and supermarket clients.

Hand pies in the making; don’t miss an opportunity to try these indulgent and delicious offerings!

“Every year we do some seasonal fun stuff, but really not as much as we’d like. So that’s the biggest joy for us right now is being able to make new things.”

If Jennifer is finding inspiration in the season’s fruit harvest, Danny is finding it in a bag of flour. 

Biscuits to go with their jam!

When they first opened the shop, he began baking biscuits and a few loaves of sourdough bread each day. Since then they’ve expanded the quantity and selection, and added additional jam-friendly or jam-inspired options from Ø Horizon Provisions. The selection now includes several breads as well as sweet and savory galettes and scones, jam pies, diamond-shaped tartlets, and chocolate chip cookies topped with flaky salt. 

Though they hoped to create a coffee shop vibe, for now they’re keeping things grab-and-go, rounding out the selection of baked goods with coffee and tea.  For now, it’s a compromise between a bustling cafe and an isolated production kitchen. 

There’s so much to love about this small shop moment…

“We thought about just setting up a kitchen somewhere,” said Danny, laughing, “but we like people. I wouldn’t get to talk to people as much if I were in an industrial district just making jam.” 

If you go: 

Alchemist’s Jam 
207 NE Ford Street, McMinnville, OR
Open Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 1 to 2 p.m. daily for lunch)


Emily Teel is a McMinnville-based food writer and recipe developer and a food editor at Better Homes & Gardens.