Mini Pie Maker Has Many Followers in Southern Minnesota | Minnesota News
By BRIAN AROLA, Mankato Free Press
NORTH MANKATO, Minnesota (AP) – Minnie Jackson and her homemade mini pies have a loyal following at the North Mankato Farmers Market, and yes, that’s her real name.
The aptly named businesswoman launched Palette Mini Pies on retirement about four years ago.
It’s a hobby, she says, as well as an outlet for her passion for baking.
“I’d rather be in the kitchen baking than doing anything else,” she said at the market Monday.
Now at the North Mankato Farmers Market, she remembers not knowing if people would go get her mini pies when she started selling them. Full-size pies are more familiar to people, but she loves how people can enjoy her mini pies without worrying about waste.
“Singles or people who live alone don’t have to buy a whole big 8 or 9 inch pie,” she said. “It can go wrong or they’ll have to freeze some of it, and it doesn’t look as good after a while.”
After retiring from Navitor in 2014, she took the time to start her small business. Her adult son and daughter encouraged her to continue when she wasn’t sure, such as when the state handbook came up on what she needed to do to legally start a small business, the Mankato reported. Free Press.
She finished all the steps, then started cooking. She went to thrift stores to find lids for different sized jars to cut up her pies – 3- to 7-inch lids came in handy.
By using fresh ingredients, she continues her mother’s pastry heritage. A longtime resident of Minnesota and the Mankato area, she grew up in Tennessee watching her mother cook from scratch – the coconut cake was Jackson’s favorite.
“She couldn’t afford to buy cake mixes, and the scratch cakes were so much better anyway,” Jackson said of her mother’s baking skills.
Once Jackson started selling his baked goods in North Mankato, positive responses quickly followed. People who loved the pie but lived alone were among his early admirers.
“It was comments like that that really got me going and moving forward, and my grown children continued to cheer me on,” she said.
A mother and daughter came to her booth almost every week. The mother loved and bought Jackson’s pies regularly. The girl also liked the pies but couldn’t eat them as they were not gluten free and vegan.
When Jackson heard about it, she and her daughter, Jenny Hoffman, discussed what ingredients she could substitute for gluten-free and vegan options. Jackson turned to Hy-Vee’s health market for vegan butter and other products.
The next time Jenny and her mother, Mallory, came to the booth, Jackson had made gluten-free and vegan pies with his usual baked goods. Mom and daughter have both been clients ever since, raving about Jackson and his mini pies.
Homemade vegan and gluten-free baked goods aren’t the easiest to find, said Jenny Hoffman. It also takes confidence for a person sensitive to certain products to feel that what they are eating will not cause problems.
“I might have other homemade food and not feel so confident, but because I feel so confident and it’s fantastic, it’s an amazing experience,” she said.
For the Hoffmans, Jackson’s crusts and fresh fruit set his mini pies apart. They don’t often leave the market without three or four mini pies in hand.
Mallory described Jackson as a kind businesswoman who puts love into her baked goods. She said she enjoys visiting Jackson and her husband, Tom, every week, who sits nearby reading a book in the shade of a tree.
“They are a lovely couple, they really are,” Mallory said.
Jenny loves Jackson’s blueberry pies, she even comes to see it to make it a life size for her birthday. Lately, Jackson said, the pecan has been the biggest seller. Cherry and peach are close.
As for what gives her the most joy as a businesswoman, Jackson cited the connections she makes with her clients. Most of it is in person at the market, but she also shares her latest baking and art creations on her Instagram – a way for customers to reach her during the winter.
“It’s probably the most rewarding thing to know that people are enjoying your product,” she said.
Beside the cooking itself, she added quickly.
Although clients encourage her to develop, she says she is happy to do what she does. She’s in a position where she can do it because she loves to cook, not because she has to.
Her enthusiastic fans can continue to enjoy her mini pies at the market most Mondays until October 18. And with mini pies, there is no guilt about finishing it all in one go.
“If you just want to say I ate it all, you can actually eat it all,” Jackson said with a laugh.
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