Too Jam Good (Homemade Jams, Salsa, Pickles, & More)
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It was the bruised tomatoes that started it. “We didn’t want to be wasteful,” says Jeannine Winslow. So, she cut away the slight imperfections and transformed the crimson orbs into a flavorful salsa. Enjoying a sense of accomplishment and desiring to do more, she found herself standing at the stove stirring simmering pots of peaches, strawberries, blueberries, figs, and raspberries, sometimes tossing in sprigs of dill or thyme or bright green leaves of basil as the mixture thickened into jam. Then cucumbers became pickles and other things were pickled that may never have been pickled before. Chow Chow, commonly known as a simple relish, morphed into a chunky mix of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, green beans, carrots, and peppers, becoming nearly a meal or at least a hearty side dish. Jeannine and her husband Carlton took stock of the variety of products and found them to be good. In fact, they were Too Jam Good. And just like that, their business was born.
The jams are versatile, not just for toast or smearing on a peanut butter sandwich. In other words, think outside the jar. Several of the flavors are great for enhancing chicken, beef, pork, and lamb entrees. Others are delicious as a topping on ice cream or cheesecake, or in a strudel. The jams infused with a little heat (Getting Figgy With It) are especially tasty with cream cheese and crackers. A spicy dollop on a Sunday evening grilled cheese sandwich will take it over the finish line.
Pickled Pineapple? It’s time we had that conversation. The jar is labeled Carlton’s Remix and contains sunny yellow pineapples in a spicy brine of jalapeños and basil. Hmmm, what has Carlton been up to? “It’s unusual,” says Jeannine, “but it works.” Don’t hesitate to give them a try, as according to Carlton, “It will change your life.” When not eating them straight from the jar, he suggests deploying them on tacos and pizzas. It’s the kind of snack that will snap you out of that late afternoon slump. Life-changing, indeed!
Carlton and Jeannine make their home on the Currituck farm where Carlton grew up among fields of towering corn stalks, vines of tomatoes, sweet watermelons, and trees abundant with pears. Carlton’s father, Howard Winslow, is fondly remembered for offering door-to-door delivery of fresh produce as he drove his truck from Southern Shores to Corolla, Carlton and his siblings aboard lending a hand. With his agricultural background and knowledge, Carlton is in his element at the Tomato Shack, the welcoming roadside farm stand that he and Jeannine own and operate in Duck. There, they sell local produce (including eggs and meats), mostly from Currituck and Hertford, and of course, their array of Too Jam Good products. Their three children pitch in and their youngest, Brianna, operates a lemonade stand there, serving refreshing beverages as she chats with customers, enthusiastically promoting their products.
Theirs is a true recipe for success that suggests a take on an old adage, “When life gives you bruised tomatoes, make salsa!”