It All Started 14 Years Ago...
I started making jerky after a week long camping trip to Maine. I had purchased about 8-9 bags of jerky for the camping trip, and my husband ate it all before we even left! Funny how that little 'thing' he did changed our lives and created an entire business for us. I would make batches and bring them to the family Christmas in big gallon size bags. It was gone within minutes!! I asked my husband to bring some to work with him and get more opinions on the flavors, consistency, taste, texture etc.. It very very rarely even made it to work, he ate it on his hour drive in most mornings. On those rare occasions, it made it, they loved it, so I was willing to give it a try.
So, we started our venture on the jerky business and looked into how to do this. Creating recipes and ideas for flavors. We have many volunteers for taste testing, but my husband will not relinquish his chief tasting officer title (or as he says, Head Quality Control Officer) to anyone! We purchased our commercial kitchen equipment from another jerky company that was retiring, found a building that we could put our commercial kitchen into along with a storefront to sell from, sent in our recipes for testing to Cornell, and waited!
Our Successes & How things have Changed
Finally, almost a year later, we are a go! Recipes approved, Ag & Markets inspected, labels approved. We made a batch of each of our flavors of jerky; 6 flavors initially. Growing to 13 flavors today. We also make pickled eggs, pickled sausage. We would make our jerky in small hand-crafted batches of 10 lbs then. Now our smallest batch is still small but around 60lbs. per flavor. Knowing we were starting out, we thought we should get our name and product out there. We applied to the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, went for the interview and tasting process, and got accepted our first year as an incubator vendor. This was a full year of every other weekend as a vendor in Troy. Shortly after we applied to some other markets and started our farmers market adventures. These included Glens Falls, Jay St. in Schenectady, some other events like the Saratoga Race Course Taste of NY tent. Increasing our reach to include Spa City Farmers Market, Washington County Fair, Gore Mountain Harvest Festival, Saugerties Garlic Festival, along with many more Beer Festivals, Craft fairs, Farmers Markets. You can find our current markets and events under our “Where to Find Us” link.
As I thought about other events I had attended, I found that the food booths were the most crowded at any craft fair. I wanted that for us! I thought we should add to our lineup of products to capture other potential customers and started to make dips and rubs that they could make on their own at home. As this took off, we started to make many flavors and varieties based on customer requests.
We had a lot of interest in offering our products in some local stores and thought we could handle the wholesale aspect; now in over 12 local stores! (However, we cannot wholesale our jerky and processed items at this time.)
We are truly proud of our products. We are able to adapt to the current trends for seasonings like the newly popular Everything Bagel Seasoning to the traditional flavors like Lemon Pepper. We can generate real dehydrated lemon while the ones in the grocery store use citric acid to give a lemon flavor.
Teriyaki Beef Jerky was our first flavor of jerky I made. To this day, it is one of our best and most popular flavors. Some of the more unconventional flavors include our Balsamic & Sweet Onion Jerky and our Jalapeno Lime Jerky. We have many requests for more than just beef, but at this time we only make our jerky out of beef unless we can source out some venison. Looking to possibly going the turkey route in the near future.
We introduced our Olive Oil Bread Dipping Seasoning and our Garlic Lover’s Dip & Seasoning, putting out samples at our events and markets. These are two of our most popular dips. They become so very versatile as they are used for more than just a dip. They can be used as salad dressings, marinades, dips, and whatever! Initially, I would mix up a batch of the Olive Oil Seasoning in a mixing bowl to make 25 packages to sell weekly at the farmers market. Today, we make it in batches to fill over 300 bags. Now available in a Jar for convenience and value. We have over 50 dips, rubs, marinades, and meal starter mixes. They are here! Soup/Stew mixes and starter kits.
Next came our baking mixes and our family favorite was Apple Crisp. I basically took away the fresh ingredients used to make this like the apples and butter and packaged it so anyone can make this just by adding sliced apples to a seasoning mix, adding butter to the crisp mix, and have an amazing dessert for their family. All made with real ingredients, no fillers or artificial ingredients. We are proud to offer this mix at our local Apple Orchards…. Saratoga Apple, Hicks Orchard, Lakeside, Fo 'Castle Farms an many other locations.