A plethora of peppers led to some pretty prodigious pickled products for Kendra Myers.
Myers, 32, attributes her imagination, love of cooking and a bumper crop of jalapenos to the founding of Kendra’s Kreations, a home-based business that has Mansfield Farmers Market shoppers chowing down on dandelion jelly and sweet hot dill pickles.
Myers and her husband, Shane Mitich, 33, moved to Rendon in 2007, and her first crop in her 1,000-square-foot garden yielded a peck of peppers, she said.
“I didn’t know what to do with all my jalapenos except pickle them,” she said. “That’s where my whole business started. I wanted to learn how to can more. I learned a little from my mom and grandmother, and started looking at recipes online. I came upon a jalapeno jelly recipe in some stuff my grandmother (Ann Gay) gave me.”
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That first batch turned out well, really well, and there was a lot of it, she said.
“It was delicious,” Myers said. “I made so much that I gave it away to friends and family for Christmas. Then they started asking for it. and I didn’t have enough jalapenos in the garden to make it.”
That’s when she realized she could go into business, and she started developing other recipes, from her grandmother’s cinnamon pickles to her own creations. By 2011, she had started Kendra’s Kreations and was selling out of her house. Changes in the cottage laws allowed her to start selling at the Mansfield Farmers Market and local festivals last year, where she has found a following.
Now, she sells pickles, jam, jelly, dried bean soup mix, taco seasoning, ranch seasoning (no sugar or fillers) and spice tea mix, all gluten and dairy free. She’s made honeysuckle and dandelion jelly, grapefruit black pepper jelly, spiced caramel apple jam, carrot cake jam, fig jam, blackberry lime and ginger jam, and blackberry on habanero jam.
“A lot of people who haven’t had it are interested, how do you turn something hot into something savory,” Myers said. “They hear about the jalapeno cream cheese dip and that intrigues a lot of people. It’s something you can’t find at the grocery store and once they’ve had it they really like it.”
Jennifer Harris’ favorite is Myers’ strawberry jam, but she admits to trying the tomato jam.
“I thought ‘that’s going to be odd,’” said Harris, who lives in Fort Worth. “It had a tomato flavor, but it was sweet. I ate it on crackers.”
Harris’ husband likes Myers’ dill pickle jelly, which she developed for the St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade in March.
“I use the vinegar from the pickles,” Myers said. “It tastes exactly like pickle beer salt. I like to mix it with barbecue sauce and use it on grilled chicken or burgers.”
Harris’ husband just eats it on toast, she said. She has her own addiction, she admits.
“I love the strawberry and watermelon jelly,” Harris said. “I put it between Eggos. I spread cream cheese on one side and jelly on the other and make a sandwich. It’s so good!
“You can go the grocery store and buy Welch’s, but nothing tastes like hers,” she said. “She using fresh produce in small batches.”
Cindi Newell of Everman likes the jellies, but loves the cinnamon pickles, which remind her of the kind her mother used to make, she said.
“My husband loves to cook with her stuff,” Newell said. “He’s always making different concoctions. If it’s something with a sauce, he pulls out her things, anything with pepper.
“She has an uncanny ability of making the most unlikely combinations,” she said.
Myers’ newest creation is pineapple jalapeno.
“So far it’s pretty yummy,” Myers said.
Each batch from start to finish, from getting the produce, sterilizing the jars and making the label takes a couple hours, but only yields eight half-pint jars. Myers says she doesn’t mind the hard work.
“I love knowing people are enjoying it,” she said. “If I could do something that I loved, and people enjoyed it and I could make money, what the heck. I love being in the kitchen.”