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The 11th Annual Hot Pepper Awards - WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

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#1 Sawyer

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 10:23 AM

Hey, All, like just about everyone here, I got the pepper bug bad. And, like a smaller subset of you, I've gone all in on setting up a company to manufacture pepper-based food products. In 2015 I participated in a months long food manufacturing workshop hosted by the University of Arkansas' Food Science department, funded by a USDA grant.

I maintain a current State of Arkansas food manufacturing permit, FDA facility registration, and a $2 million liability insurance policy. I also maintain a GS1 US UPC (bar code) registration for up to 10 codes (and am currently using only two or three.) My company is also registered as a contractor with the Federal government, opening up the possibility of supplying products to the various Fed organizations.

I have one commercial product in stores, Spectrum Peppers (brand) Pineapple Mango Scorpion sauce (it's more of a pepper condiment than a traditional "hot sauce") and have several more products in development.

I would like to explore opportunities to apply all this effort to the benefit of my fellow THPers and, yes, to monetize the effort, both for myself and others. Some of the possibilities include assisting you with developing and producing your own branded products, providing a market for your excess pepper production for my own production, perhaps even forming a cooperative venture.

I'll return to expand on these ideas and others, and I'm open to your suggestions. But right now I want to post this link to a shared G Drive containing images of the facility I have authorization to use. Maybe it will set your gears to spinning. It's somewhat disorganized at present and I need to add model number identifications, but it's a start.

https://drive.google...ZmkytDpi8Bjguiv

I'll be back.

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#2 salsalady

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 01:15 PM

OK, I'm officially jealous!  Nice Facility!  I'd be happy with just the test kitchen. 

Good Luck on your saucy ventures!

SL


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#3 Crispee-FL

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 07:21 PM

Nice Sawyer all my best!

#4 Sawyer

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 11:17 AM

Nice Sawyer all my best!

Thanks, Crispee!
 

OK, I'm officially jealous!  Nice Facility!  I'd be happy with just the test kitchen. 
Good Luck on your saucy ventures!
SL

Thanks, SL, it is a nice facility, and is maintained and managed by very qualified and competent people. There are only two downsides, imo.

One is that it can get crowded on occasion (I'm not sure how many active users they have, a dozen or more, I think. Some are very successful and are there processing every day - or at least every day I'm there.)

Another (again, imo) is that most of the heating and cooking processes are accomplished with a steam boiler with steam piped to the various pieces of equipment that use it. Not that there's anything wrong with steam, per se, but having a boiler requires an on-site or on-call certified boiler operator at all times. That's not cheap. Anything using steam costs $70/hr. (On top of the standard $25/hr just to use the facility... which is not bad at all, imo.)

The cost of steam has led me to reevaluate my SoP to minimize steam use. Right now I'm trying to adjust the process to combine and blend all ingredients cold then use steam only for the final HWB processing. Could probably shorten that time even more by using pressure processing, but I'm not sure of the status of that capability. (Beyond using my own 22 qt. stove top canner.)

Lest I sound all negative here, the pluses far outweigh the minuses. I think I put the facility's website link in SL's pinned "starting a business" thread, but I'll put it here, too, for convenience.

https://afic.uark.edu

Testing products for pH and Brix is routine and I think free for client companies. Anyone can walk in off the street for a measurement for a reasonable fee. Give them your ingredient list and they'll generate an FDA-compliant nutrition panel for $10.  And I, myself, am very conversant with FDA labeling regulations:

 

CFR 21, Part 101

 

Use standard-size containers and the facility manager ensures adequate supply is always on hand. (Stored in the big metal building in the image folder linked above.) I use these:

http://www.agcc.com/...s/8oz-mayo.html

Last time I checked, they were 57¢ each for jar and lid. That same company sells woozies, so I imagine they could be shipped in a combined order to save on shipping costs.

They are very strict about sanitation and processing protocols (and for that we should all be grateful.)

 

More to follow.



#5 Sawyer

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 08:54 AM

I haven't updated this thread in a bit, so here's a little more.

I spoke with the facility manager last week and the rates for using the facility are much better than I remembered. Five bucks an hour and that includes the steam.

Making my own Pineapple Mango Scorpion sauce is best accomplished with two people and Food Science students are usually available for hire. The going rate is $10/hr, but I think $12.50/hr is a more reasonable wage. It's hot, unpleasant work. But I can make a batch of 144 8 oz. jars in 4 hours with someone helping me.

As soon as I run it past the State Health Department guy, I'll start commercial production of my latest product, hot pepper fudge. Those of you who have bought some of the ghost pepper plants in my forum ad have received a sample. Most seem to like it. I'm up to test batch #11 now and will make test batch #12 this morning.

Anyway, all that aside, here's something that might be more relevant to some of you. Given my situation, it's impractical to make commercial-scale product using only fresh peppers and only when fresh peppers are available. Instead, when the harvest comes in, I make purée. I use a simplified version of the process posted by... well, shoot, I forget the THP members' name, thought his process was pinned, but don't see it now.

Anyway, the only ingredients I use in the purée are peppers, white vinegar, and salt. Can leave out the salt and am considering other acidifiers. The point is to turn a fresh pepper harvest into a shelf-stable form asap for use in other products made at some future time.

Shipping costs would likely be prohibitive for small harvests, but I can do this for other growers. Once processed into shelf-stable purée, you can make your value-added products at your leisure.

Another option is that, as a group, we pool our harvests, purée the lot, then distribute the purée proportionally back to the growers, or a share of proceeds from products made there from.

Just tossing some ideas out there.

#6 salsalady

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 11:05 AM

Alabama Jack's puree recipe~

 

Fresh pods can also be frozen at harvest and used as needed, if you have freezer space available~ saves the work of doing the puree.

 

SL

 

 


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#7 Sawyer

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 12:41 PM

That's it, Alabama Jack's, thank you.

Freezing is certainly an option, but freezer space is at a real premium around here*. Plus you still have to process the peppers at time of use. It's a lot more convenient to just "add two 8 oz jars yellow scorpion pepper purée" or "add two tablespoons Moruga scorpion purée."

* Hopefully that will change when I get that hundred grand Kickstarter you've mentioned elsewhere.




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