When Stacey Hawkins read that I was in search of a good tomato jam, she came to the rescue. As it turns out, she and a friend make and market tomato jam right here in the St. Louis area—in Fenton. Stacey and her business partner, Ann Kelly, own and operate Spread Tomato Jam, the name under which they produce the sweet, spicy and savory product. It all started with an abundance of backyard tomatoes.
What goes into each jar, besides a lot of love and slow cookin’? The label reads: fresh tomatoes, sugar, lime juice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and salt. No artificial ingredients. Then it’s poured into Ball jars like grandma used for canning and preserved with a hot water bath like grandma did.
Questions for Stacey
How did the two of you get together for this project?
My family preserved and canned, but I’d never heard of tomato jam. When I had an excess of garden tomatoes, I tried the recipe on my adventuresome family and friends and they loved it. Requests kept rolling in. As the demand increased, I needed a business partner. Fortunately, my friend, Ann Kelly, a former A-B marketer was looking for a new venture. Now we’re spreading love one jar at a time.
How large a batch do you make?
We’re cooking in a commercial kitchen now in up to 80-gallon steam kettles. We make 20 times the original recipe in one batch. That takes over 100 pounds of tomatoes and all day to cook.
What are your long-range goals?
We’re brand new, having just incorporated in the Spring, 2017. This is the learning and exploring phase for us. We’re introducing new customers to our tomato jam (99% of them love it!), meeting other small business owners, and selling at local farmers’ markets. For now, we’re gauging demand, learning the ropes, and having fun with our new business. Long term we want to explore making other products, make a profit, and give back to our community.
Spreading the Jam
I can’t wait to mix the jam with some mayo on a BLT. Stacey suggests serving it with crackers and cheese, or bagels and cheese, or in place of ketchup. It would definitely add zing to a burger. When store-bought tomatoes begin to taste bland, at best, or cardboard, at worst, it’s good to be able to recapture the flavor of vineripe tomatoes on your favorite sandwich.
Look for STJ at farmers’ markets such as Schlafly’s in Manchester or the Eureka Farmers’ Market. A 4-oz. jar sells for $5 and a half-pint jar is $10. A portion of sales from each jar “goes to charities that support the Earth and those who live upon it.”
More about Spread at facebook.com/spreadtomatojam.