CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Small business are the backbone of the economy, as the popular saying goes. But, in the case of Sherry’s Jams N’ Jellies, innovation and creativity are the backbone for successful small businesses.
Sherry Castle, the owner and expert preserver behind Sherry's Jams N' Jellies, started her business five years ago. She was encouraged by friends to sell her preserves after replicating a batch of jalapeño jam.
"I did this as a child, making jam and jelly with my mother so I knew how to do it," she said. "(But) I had no idea how to (sell) it and the farmers market embraced me."
Castle initially started with selling baked goods, along with her jams and jellies. But after awhile, she noticed that the preserves were more popular and switched to making and selling those full-time.
Now she goes back and forth between two different farmers markets in Corpus Christi and carries up to 36 different flavors for customers to choose from, from Earl Grey to strawberry basil to jalapeño bacon.
"I go through a lot of sugar," Castle said jokingly. "A lot (of the flavors) are inspired by customers who will come in."
Her daughter Rebecca Moreno joined the business two years ago to help with sales, customers and sometimes making the jams and jellies her mom is so known for, although she usually leaves that to the expert.
“There’s certain way (she makes it), there is a lot of love and sugar that goes into them,” Marino said. “So I want to make sure that they’re perfect.”
While Castle had no issue with fulfilling her customers every jam and jelly need, she had to get creative when it came to preserving them.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Castle struggled to keep up with the demand for her preserves as the price of glass canning jars increased. She started asking customers to bring back their old jam and jelly jars for her to reuse.
This allowed her to avoid overspending on expensive glass canning jars while continuing to offer her product at a fair price.
"That was just something I grew up doing," Castle said. "My mother put all our jams and jellies in glass peanut butter jars that she'd buy at the grocery store. So this was just part of what I grew up with and it was like 'let's bring in that aspect of it here too.'"
Jars with two piece lids are preferable for home canning, as it vacuum seals the preserves inside and allows it to keep for much longer, Castle said.
She also said that the number of jars she reuses depends on what her customers bring her but that being able to reuse any old jars really helps her offset costs.
"Corpus (and) these people who come to markets (really) embraced that," Castle said.
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