You can now find a locally-made salsa on store shelves across Illinois and Missouri.
Christine's Salsa offers three flavors: mild taco, spicy taco and hot taco. What separates the locally-made salsas from the rest is the seasoning; most salsas are served atop tacos, but Christine's incorporates taco seasoning into the salsa to make it taste like the taco itself.
Owner Christine Nelson started making her salsas for friends and family out of her kitchen in Edwardsville, Illinois. She always loved to cook, but never had any sort of formal culinary training. When she would visit her aunt, who owns her own bakery in Texas, Nelson would bring back plenty of the region's peppers to experiment with different flavors and spice levels. That's how she created her first recipe, her spicy taco salsa.
Nelson began selling her salsa at craft fairs, but as demand increased, she realized that, in addition to her full-time job at a credit union, she couldn't keep up.
"I got a really good following," she says.
She teamed up with with a local co-processor in order to not only make her original recipe, but to develop the mild and hot versions for those with slightly different tastes.
In recent months, Nelson has also began working with a local distributor, Fox River Dairy, that has given her the ability to expand her reach. Before the partnership began, her husband, Wayne, didn't just serve as her salsa's biggest fan – he was also helping Nelson make the product deliveries in addition to his full-time job. Since then, not only has Christine's Salsa seen support from small businesses in the area, but Schnucks also put Christine's Salsa on shelves across Illinois and Missouri. Now, Nelson hopes the partnership can get her into other stores like Fields Foods and Dierbergs Markets.
Nelson hopes that her salsa business can eventually go national, but on a more personal level, she hopes that her later-in-life venture can be an inspiration to those who want to pursue their dreams. She is 52 now and was 50 when she first started the business.
"You can do anything at any age," she says. "I'm really proud of how far we've come."
You can find a list of locations where Christine's Salsa is available on its website.
Christine's Salsa, christinessalsa.com