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Jelly is made with love, laughter

Women enjoy selling at Hillsboro craft show

Staff writer

Letty Enns and Helen Penner are friends.

As friends they share joys and sorrows, and jelly recipes.

From 1986 to 2000, the two made and sold thousands of jars of their famous jelly.

For the past 22 years, the two have been selling jelly at Hillsboro’s Arts and Crafts Fair.

Named Ho-Ette Farm Jelly (“Ho” is for Homer and “Ette” is for Luetta, Letty’s full name), many people make it a point to buy the jelly.

Ho-Ette also is the name of the Enns farm where the couple had shown cattle and farmed. Homer since has died but Letty remains on the farm.

Helen had to slow down a bit eight years ago because of her knees, but continues to help her friend sell jelly at the local fair.

Letty can’t remember exactly when all of this started because she had made jelly as gifts. Before long, people asked her to make more jelly and she decided it was time to take it to the streets.

So, in 1986, the two made some jelly, and shared a booth with another vendor at the Hillsboro fair. Eventually, they needed their own booth.

“We’ve seen it all,” Helen said. “Some years we got wet, were wind-blown, froze, or cooked.”

In 1987, Helen recalled when it rained and they sold their jelly out of a camper.

Letty who now makes the jelly on her own, uses as many locally grown berries as possible — most of them coming from her own property.

Other fruits grow wild. She has friends and neighbors who tell her where sand plums and elderberry trees can be found.

So, how many varieties does she make? How about 21.

They vary from traditional favorites like cherry, apple, strawberry, and apricot to beet, dandelion (tastes a little like honey), gooseberry, mulberry (which come from a tree in Helen’s yard), elderberry, apple pie, currant, chokecherry (a smaller, more tart cherry), peach pie, pear honey, jalapeno, jalapeno with peach, raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry preserves, and wild grape.

So, where did Letty find a recipe for dandelion jelly?

That particular one came from an old newspaper. If she doesn’t have a recipe, it’s trial and error.

“I experiment with some, working at it until it tastes good,” Letty said.

The rural Hillsboro woman also makes the jelly year-round for banquets, as gifts, and for other special events.

Perhaps just as famous as the jelly, the women are known for wearing bright colorful sun hats or bonnets while they sell their wares.

“One year we sold out of the sunflower hats,” Letty said. She is willing to take special orders for the hats.

“She can sew anything,” Helen said.

Letty also does alterations and is an accomplished artist.

Typically they sell between 200 and 300 jars at the Hillsboro show. This year will probably be no different at their booth under the awning in the 100 block of South Main Street.

The women also sell their goods at Maxwell Game Preserve, Lindsborg, and Hillsboro Folk Festival. They have been invited to other festivals and shows but have declined.

“We only want to make so much,” Letty said. “When we’re done, we’re done.”

Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Hillsboro.

Last modified Sept. 17, 2008

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