photograph by Keith Mosher
At 11 p.m., toiling over a stove of bubbling jelly and jam, Krista Scudlark got a suggestion from her husband, Joe.
Little patterned-cloth tops, Joe said, would really brighten up those jelly jars she’d been working so hard to fill.
“I gave him an evil look,” Krista says with a laugh. “I was like, â€˜When the heck do I have time to cut a bunch of cloth circles?’”
Krista had a point. But her hard work—Joe’s, too—has made the Scudlarks’ Milton-based Backyard Jellies and Jams a sudden success in Delaware.
Sweet-teeth rave over the Scudlarks’ products, sometimes just on variety alone. They run the spectrum, from peach to pepper to rhubarb to strawberry to crab apple—with countless combinations in between. Cool jams help to expand from the usual applications like toast and bagels. Daring chefs like to slather the peach-pepper jelly onto tuna and pork tenderloin before slapping it on the grill, Scudlark says.
The jams, which are a regular winner at the Delaware State Fair, are available at Delaware Made in Dover, at Hill’s Produce in Milford, at the Lydia B. Cannon Museum in Milton, and at scattered produce stands in Lewes and Rehoboth.
Cooking the stuff isn’t so strenuous, Scudlark says, except that she and Joe perform every step from their house in Milton. They grow the fruit on their 1-acre property, cap it, pick it, cut it, mash it, cook it, can it and print the labels.
“Then I stay up late to cut out all the little cloth tops,” she says.