Sweet Home Chicago (Tuscaloosa)
The Maker: Laura S. Clark
Laura S. Clark believed her grandchildren were sweet enough that they didn’t need gobs of sugar added to their jelly.
The Chicago transplant has lived in Tuscaloosa for 32 years, finding a sweet home in both places.
“I wanted to marry the best of both worlds,” Clark said.
Making jam and jelly without sugars and processed food products for her grandchildren was how it started. That turned into a hobby, which eventually led Clark to public sales under the brand Sweet Home Chicago.
“We started with our cottage food license in our home, just doing some events, some shows and some markets,” Clark said. “As our products developed, got more known and became more out there, we started growing and growing.”
That led to a commercial license and growth into new tastes.
“We’ve experimented with different flavors over the years to see what sticks,” Clark said. “Our most popular flavor is plain strawberry jam. Our most popular pepper jelly is our apricot-habenero and our strawberry-jalepeno pepper jellies.”
Six years after starting, Sweet Home Chicago has a large line of flavors, including sugar-free, and can be found in eight retail outlets. Even the regular line is low-sugar, Clark said. The low-sugar content and mix of flavors make her jellies perfect to use as cooking ingredients, she said.
Most of all, Clark said, her product can be trusted.
“Our product tastes good and it’s healthier, but No. 1 and foremost to me is it’s safe,” she said. “It’s a safe product.”
Every recipe is tested for its PH level to ensure safety.
“Just because it can go in a jar doesn’t mean its supposed to go in a jar,” Clark said.
Sweet Home Chicago uses natural pectin that makes Clark’s line of jams and jellies different from those with artificial pectins that may contain added sugars or genetically modified organisms.
Clark wants her jams and jellies to be used on more than just biscuits.
“The pepper jellies and unique flavors are fantastic to cook with … fruits, vegetables, baking, stuff you wouldn’t think about, meats … it gives you all of the flavors of the ingredients without the heavy sugar,” she said.
Clark said the jellies and jams are kosher and vegan and her sugar-free products are perfect for diabetics or people who are following the ketogenic diet. After producing more than 15 varieties of jellies and jams, Clark has added vinegar to the line and plans to add salsa and butter.
The next step is to get Sweet Home Chicago into grocery stores.
The product: A line of minimal-sugar jams and jellies, sugar-free jams and jellies, and pepper jellies.
Take Home: Strawberry Jam ($10).