Photo: Jennifer Causey
MADE IN THE SOUTH AWARDS: FOOD
Runners-Up: sweet-cured jalapeños from JED’s Finest
$10 for 16 oz. jar
Consider the lowly jalapeño. In its most debased state, it bobs forlornly in gas station pickling jars, plunked next to the hot-dog rollers. Jack Daniel (his real name) figured there had to be a better way. “I’m the son of a serial canner,” he says. Inspired by his mother, Daniel began experimenting with peppers and sugar curing, adding just enough brine to tone down the sweetness. After a decade or so, he launched his own business and now sells mostly online. “What I like about my jalapeños is that they don’t have a hard edge to them,” he says, “but still have a bite on the back end.” Think of these as bread-and-butter pickles that went to Mexico and came back speaking fluent Spanish. Daniel says they’re best showcased simply—atop a cracker spread with cream cheese.