Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A short respite is coming to an end

The past couple of weeks we've not been at our regular Farmers Markets, although Donna represented us at the Williams-Sonoma Artisan program (held on the third Saturdays of each month).

Well expect us back with a flair.

For those of you who watch the local markets, our local Dripping Springs Farmers Market took the month of August off (mainly because A) it is awfully hot and B) a lot of the farmers do not have much produce to offer.  But we've also missed the Barton Creek and Lakeway Commons markets...for an entirely different reason - Bill's right ankle.  A little surgery and a little recovery and we hope make things better.

So when we come back...likely Sept. 1st.  watch for some of the same quality ketchup and following soon, the gift boxes and 4 x 4 fl oz sampler package both suitable for tailgating and other autumn parties.

Fall WILL be a great season at events, farmers markets and our select set of retailers between now and the December Holidays.  Stop by and see us for a taste and to stock up for the season.

Gourmet Ketchup ought to taste great

We've done a lot of market research about ketchup, especially those brands who assert they are "gourmet".

According to Ask.com, "Gourmet food is of the highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner."

Clearly, when anyone in our culture first considers "what is ketchup?" they think of the typical Heinz, Hunts, or even store brands of the red, tomato like stuff that dominates the grocery shelves.  Considering the market share, Heinz clearly is the big manufacturer, so it makes sense to compare all other "ketchup" (or "catsup") to them...but Heinz and their clones are hardly "Gourmet" and certainly not "artisanal".

Then there are the "Organic" versions, essentially the same recipes as Heinz et al but with organically grown ingredients...otherwise, the same taste, texture, and how they can determine that High Fructose Corn Syrup or even Agave Nectar is "organic" ought to puzzle most scientists...but we digress.  Even those with sugar instead of HFCS aren't really gourmet, now are they?

When we do our research we try as many ketchups as possible that advertise or label themselves as "gourmet"...and there really aren't that many.  Some labeled as "gourmet" are not really much more than "flavored" ketchup...essentially regular ketchup recipes with a few flavors added; for example, a well-marketed "Habanero" ketchup is nothing but regular ketchup with a smattering of ground up peppers added for flavor.  Hardly the "highest quality".

So what about the rest of the gourmet ketchups we've found.

Let me summarize this way....a clerk at a well-known international grocery chain (headquartered in Austin) told me they had tried two versions of a well-marketed "Gourmet" ketchup.  Her comment essentially, to be polite, was that it tasted bad.  "It was pasty, not tasty."

We've tried many, including one while we were passing through Louisiana recently.  It's a "spicy" gourmet ketchup.  I almost gagged as did my wife.

The reasons that so many of these ketchups seem to be less than tasty is apparent when you look at the labels....both the ingredients and the nutritional label.

When you see "tomato concentrate", "tomato paste", or worst of all "tomato puree" as the primary ingredient, expect the flavor to be less desirable.  If you see HFCS, you might want to question how this could be of the "highest quality" (at least from a nutritional standpoint.  When you see "ketchup" as a primary ingredient you know you are looking at a product that was not "well prepared".

The bottom line is that there are few "well prepared", "highest quality and taste" ketchups and even fewer that have all natural ingredients.  So if you want a gourmet ketchup that tastes good, try our ketchups.  And, our label designer did a great job of presenting Drippin' Sauce Ketchup "in an artful manner", didn't he?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Approaching...almost here!

What could we possibly be talking about?

Football.  

Football means tailgating or having folks over to watch the away games.  In ANY CASE it means eating, food, beverages and associated side dishes and condiments.

Well, to our fans that means either you are the cook, the guest or asked to bring a side.

Cooks...look at our recipes. If you want to make one up and send it to us, we'll test it and post it on our web site.  If you want to use our ketch with smoked meats, try the Special Reserve...or try a little of each.  If you want some gulf shrimp cocktail or maybe a pound or so of boiled, spiced shrimp, put our ketchups out on the table...a separate little dish of horseradish might be appropriate for those who are overly set in their ways...but most people report the Drippin' Sauce Ketchup by itself is a great dip for your scrimp.

In any case, Cooks, you can get a package of all four flavors at a reduced price over the list price of four bottles.

Guests...instead of the traditional bottle of wine or other gift for the host, get them a Gift Box Sampler.  It's about the cost of better wines and includes three bottles (you pick the flavors you want) in a nice gift package.

The Rest of You....maybe you just want to bring a small but tasty gift.  Try the 4 x 4 fl oz bottles (it's a follow on to last year's popular "Tailgate Trio" but this year we have a fourth flavor and will offer a sampler with all four flavors.

In any case use or take Drippin' Sauce Ketchup to your next football gatherings.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Question: Gluten Free?

Another question that comes up every once in a while...is Drippin' Sauce Ketchup gluten free?

The legal answer is that none of our ketchup flavors are "certified" as gluten free.

To the best of our knowledge, however, the ingredients we use do not contain any gluten and the facility in which they are cooked does not, as far as we've been able to determine, make products or use ingredients that contain gluten (i.e., no wheat or wheat flour).  So, although not certified as gluten free we believe our products are either no or low risk.

Given that some people have real serious gluten allergies, we would recommend they only use certified products; on the other hand, many people are choosing gluten-free products as a choice not as a health requirement and they can use their own judgement whether to choose our products or not.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weight Watchers Score

First, the disclaimer.

Our products have not been submitted to any authority associated with Weight Watchers (TM) so the following is anecdotal.

Last weekend a customer stood at our table at the Lakeway Commons Farmers Market on Sunday.  Looking at this woman, it was clear that the normal spiel about our products ("Drippin' Sauce, Ketchup with a Flair for Flavor, is made from scratch with all natural ingredients in Dripping Spring, Texas") was not appropriate; her attention was focused on her smart phone.

When customers are on their phones one ought to be patient, let them finish their business and then assess how to introduce them to our products.

While still focused on her phone she picked up a bottle of Sweet Onion looking at the nutritional label...then the Mild Chipotle, and the Hot, then finally the Special Reserve.  Well, the patience was worth the short time.

When she finished her business on the phone, she looked up and said, "You're gonna like this!"  As she completed her sentence she turned the phone towards me and said, "I just entered all your information into the Weight Watchers phone app and it gives your product a 'score' of zero!"

Not being very knowledgable of Weight Watchers scores, it took me a second to understand that zero is the best score you can have.  I guess weight watchers add the scores of the foods they eat up to some maximum level per meal, day, etc.  So a score of zero means they can have as much as they want without it affecting their consumption of other food items...that's good.

Oh, the customer bought a bottle of Drippin' Sauce Ketchup knowing she could enhance other foods on her menu without adding to her Weight Watchers score.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate

One of the oft asked questions is whether our Drippin' Sauce Ketchup needs to be refrigerated or not.

The technical answer is no, refrigeration is not required.  However, the recommendation is that you DO refrigerate ketchup after opening the bottle.

Ketchup, more specifically tomato ketchup, is made with vinegar and tomatoes among other ingredients.  The acidic (pH) nature and the lengthy cooking at or near the boiling point should prevent the growth of any bad stuff.  The pH when bottled is at 4 +/- a small tolerance.  That's acidic.

Our ketchup (as with all commercially available ketchups -- or catsup if you want) has been tested by an independent lab for "shelf life".  Shelf life is literally "long".

Clearly, the unopened bottle does not require refrigeration...it can be left in the pantry until you are ready to use it.

The major difficulty ketchup encounters is oxidation...air causes that dark red semi-dry stuff you see around the cap.  Any ketchup can oxidize (even that stuff you see on tables in burger joints.)  So keep the lid on the bottle either in or out of the fridge.

The reason we recommend refrigeration after the bottle is opened is to retain the complexity and richness of our ketchup with a flair for flavor...keep the flair!