Get Adobe Flash player

Dairy

Organic Valley Grassmilk: Good for People, Good for Cows

By Lorrie Baumann

dsc_3990Organic Valley is responding to consumer demand for “cleaner” products and more transparency around production methods with its Grassmilk™ product line of fluid milk, cheese and yogurt. In 2011, Organic Valley was the first national brand to launch a 100 percent grass-fed milk nationwide and trademarked the Grassmilk term. Production of the Grassmilk started in northern California in 2012, and distribution went national in 2013 after the company expanded production to Wisconsin and established national distribution for Grassmilk.

Since then, the Grassmilk product line has been expanded to include cheese, and the company launched Grassmilk Yogurt in plain and vanilla flavors. Single-serve Grassmilk yogurt cups will launch this fall at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. The line has been embraced by the marketplace, said Cate Hollowitsch, Community Engagement Manager for Organic Valley. “There’s been an increase in requests for organic products,” she said. “Retailers are realizing that their customers are looking for it.”

dsc_4132While all Organic Valley milk is sourced from pasture-raised cows, the farmer-owned dairy cooperative is taking that one step further for Grassmilk milk. The cows are 100 percent grass-fed and eat only fresh grasses when the pastures are green and dried forages, like hay, after grass season is over in the fall and winter. They do not eat supplemental grains – no corn or soybeans. Grassmilk has been shown to offer higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is thought to have positive effects on human health, compared to milk from cows fed a conventional dairy ration that includes grain.

The Grassmilk products appeal to an evolving audience of consumers who generally adopt organic food products either when they have children or when either they themselves or a close family member or friend experiences a serious health issue, said Organic Valley’s Director for Brand Management Tripp Hughes. In any given year, up to 25 percent of organic consumers are new within the past two years, he added. “There’s constantly new people coming into the category.”

He noted that even those consumers who adopted the organic ethos decades ago are still evolving, becoming more skeptical about their food and looking for more authenticity and transparency in the food they’re buying. “Authenticity and transparency are more critical today than they’ve ever been,” Hughes said.

As a result, Organic Valley has started organizing regional farm tours so consumers can visit its farms, and bringing its retailers out to visit its farmers as well. “Those farm tours are very popular,” Hughes said. “Quite often, it’s the first time the retailers have ever been on a farm.”

David Stratton, who’s been dairy farming at Stone Mill Farm in upstate New York for the past 14 years, is one of 81 dairy farmers in the northeastern U. S. who are supplying Organic Valley with the 100 percent grass-fed milk that goes into the Grassmilk products, with more expected to join the dairy cooperative next year. Organic Valley pays him a premium for his milk because it’s organically produced and another premium because he’s raising his 44 milking cows, an assortment of replacement heifer calves and five bulls on pasture and dried forage only. This is the way he dreamed of raising dairy cows when he was a child spending summers at his uncle’s farm, he said. That was what he describes as an “Old MacDonald type of farm” with a garden, cows, horses, chickens and pigs. “It was the cows I really liked,” he said.

When he grew up, he tried to find a way to become a dairy farmer through the years of his 20s, but he couldn’t find a way to do it. While he looked for a farm he could afford, he became a successful cabinet maker, but he kept dreaming. “I just couldn’t shake it out of my system,” he said.

dsc_4008Then, a friend referred him to a man who’d bought a dairy farm but knew nothing about farming and needed someone to manage it for him. The new owner had bought the farm to obtain a steady supply of cow manure to feed into the biogas generator he was inventing – the cows themselves were merely the means to that end. Stratton gave him a call, came out for a visit and landed the job.

Eleven months later, the inventor’s biogas project had cleaned him out, and he abandoned the 206-acre farm. “I had to leave or buy the farm,” Stratton said. “The bank took a chance on me.”

dsc_4149Stratton reseeded the pasture, which had been planted with corn and alfalfa – typical of the crops planted by many modern dairy farms, which rely on a scheme of a few plants plus supplements to make up nutritional deficits. Stratton’s reseeded pastures were designed as a complete diet for the cows, with each plant contributing its own chemistry and fiber content. Then he opened up the barn doors and let out into the sun the cows that had been confined inside to make it easier to collect their droppings. “I love the cows,” Stratton said. “I used to daydream about having a farm where the cows could graze naturally – and make a living doing it.”

He met his wife, Michelle, in January of 2014 through an online dating service. She’d been living in Manhattan since graduating from college with a degree in photography, first bartending and then becoming a doula and getting her nursing degree with a view to completing an advanced degree in midwifery. Despite her love of the city, after 13 years, she began to feel that she was a bit of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, so she moved back home with her mom in Syracuse, about an hour away from where David was living on Stone Mill Dairy in Lebanon. She got a nursing job at the State University of New York’s Upstate University Hospital, and at the insistence of her brother in law, she signed up for an account on Match.com.

Her first date with David Stratton sealed the deal for her, she said. “The first night his passion was so profound and so infectious. I never met anyone who loves what they do as much as him. And he was so darn cute,” ” she said. “I felt like we both just knew. I feel like we were both looking for this…. I never fell that hard for somebody before.”

“She used to live in Manhattan, and now she’s Mrs. Stratton,” David interjected.

dsc_4058Not long after that first date, David brought her back to visit his dairy farm, where his cows were dry for the winter, and with no milking to do, the farm chores were at their seasonal low point. Michelle fell in love with both David and the quiet rhythm of winter on the farm. “And then calf season hit, and by then I was head over heels,” Michelle said.

David had plenty of time to introduce her to the history of his farm, which was deeded to its first owner, Zar Benedict, by Great Britain in 1812. His barn, the same one in which David milks his cows today, was originally built by 1814, when it first appears in the local records, and the house was likely also built in 1814. Benedict sold it to his son in 1856, and that son sold it out of the family in 1866. “I’m the 13th owner of this farm,” David said.

dsc_4066There’s very little about how he farms today that those early farmers wouldn’t recognize, even though he’s harvesting his hay with a modern baler. He’s milking in the same barn, which has been updated with electric fans for ventilation and electric milking equipment. The cows come into the barn twice a day to be milked, herded in from their pasture with David’s quiet whistle. While they’re milked, David spends time with each, assessing its health and well-being and making sure the cows are comfortable. After milking, they stroll back out to pasture again, taking time to nibble at the grasses near the fence line along the way. When the weather’s hot, they shade up under the trees, chewing their cuds and swatting away flies. “They get to be cows,” David said.

dave-michelle-stratton_ov_3229_2Today, Stone Mill Dairy is profitable – not something that every American dairy farmer can say with confidence, and Michelle describes herself as a part-time nurse, still working two shifts a week at Upstate University Hospital, and a full-time farmer, a role that she says she’s still growing into. “The significance of the farm is still growing on me. It’s a really extraordinary lifestyle. We live and work together 24 hours a day,” she said. “That’s the part we’re still navigating, the 24/7 of it all. But there’s so much beauty in that.”

“I met David, and I found that my life is so much more complete,” she continued. “I feel so lucky every day.”

October the Month to Celebrate Cheese, Glorious Cheese

The sixth annual American Cheese Month celebration kicks off October 1, with events and promotions taking place nationwide throughout the month. Launched by the American Cheese Society in 2011 to highlight the nation’s burgeoning artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheese industry, American Cheese Month is a celebration of the incredible quality and diversity of cheeses made by American producers.

The American Cheese Society will commemorate American Cheese Month in its hometown of Denver, Colorado, at the Great American Beer Festival, where more than 500 pounds of artisan and specialty cheese will be sampled to consumers alongside craft beer. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has also shown his support for American Cheese Month by issuing an official proclamation and publicly declaring that he is Pro-Cheese. Viewers can watch this video of Governor Hickenlooper, along with a series of Cheese Party campaign videos that offer a lighthearted take on this campaign season, on the American Cheese Society’s Vimeo site.

Nora Weiser, Executive Director of the American Cheese Society, said, “As more and more consumers seek out high quality, local foods, regional cheeses from around the country are growing a loyal following.” There are over 900 such cheesemakers in the U.S., and the quality of their cheeses is seen in the awards they garner around the world. “These cheesemakers are passionate, hard-working, and incredibly creative,” said Weiser. “It is an exciting time in this nation’s food scene, as the fruits of their labor are embraced so strongly.”

Revenue from sales of Cheese Party merchandise and select American Cheese Month events in October will support the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation. The Foundation is funding the first comprehensive survey of the U.S. artisan and specialty cheese industry.

Anyone with a love for cheese is encouraged to participate in American Cheese Month. A dedicated website and events calendar offer ideas for cheesemakers, retailers, distributors, chefs, enthusiasts, and others to get involved. Cheese lovers can also network on the American Cheese Month Facebook page and share photos of their celebrations on Twitter (#AmCheeseMonth, @CheeseSociety, @theCheeseParty).

If you would like to hold an American Cheese Month event, or if you are interested in learning more about partnership opportunities, contact the ACS office: 720.328.2788 or info@cheesesociety.org.

American Cheese Month is made possible with support from Gourmet Foods International.

The Greek Gods Brand Introduces Chocolate Greek-Style Yogurt

The Greek Gods® brand has introduced three new flavors of Greek-Style Yogurt; all with a creamy, rich chocolate base. The new flavors include hints of mocha, strawberry and cherry for a unique and decadent experience. The new yogurts are available in 24 ounce tubs.

“Our customers have enjoyed our decadent, whole milk Greek-Style Yogurts for many years, and chocolate was a natural fit for our newest addition,” said Basel Nassar, Chief Operating Officer of the Hain Refrigerated Foods Division. “Customer feedback has been extremely positive. The creamy, thick texture and rich taste of chocolate make these new flavors truly unique.”

The Greek Gods Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir
The Greek Gods Greek-Style Yogurt is a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. The Greek Gods brand Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir are gluten-free and contain live and active cultures. Plus, The Greek Gods brand Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir are made with milk from cows that are not treated with growth hormones.

Organic Valley Introduces Single-Serve Grassmilk Yogurt Cups

Organic Valley has introduced convenient 6-ounce Grassmilk® Yogurt™ Cups in four varieties: Strawberry, Wild Blueberry, Plain and Vanilla. The 100 percent grass-fed yogurt cups appeal to people looking for premium yogurt with extraordinary flavor, nutritional excellence and grab-and-go convenience.

Organic Valley’s Grassmilk Yogurt cups are exceptional in flavor and quality. They feature cream-on-top, whole milk yogurt crafted from 100 percent grass-fed, non-homogenized organic Grassmilk milk, along with organic strawberries, organic wild blueberries, organic fair trade vanilla and live probiotic cultures.

Good food enthusiasts understand that terroir can be a key factor for high-quality dairy, just as it is for vineyards and coffee estates. Grassmilk Yogurt’s taste profile is a result of where the cows live, seasonality, and what they eat.

Nutritionally, the co-op’s Grassmilk Yogurt flows with naturally-occurring calcium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s. Organic milk from 100 percent grass-fed cows has a more favorable fatty acid profile than milk from conventionally-fed cows. It is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6 fatty acids. Minimally processed with nothing extra added and always organic there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Organic Valley never uses antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.

“Feeding our cows organic grass 100 percent of the time produces the highest quality milk and ensures our dairy cows lead longer, healthier lives—all while improving the health of the land,” said Wisconsin Organic Valley Farmer-Owner Kevin Jahnke.

Starting in September, Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt cups will be available in natural food stores, food cooperatives and major grocery chains nationwide with a suggested retail price of $1.69.

Rogue Creamery Readies to Release 2016 Rogue River Blue

Rogue Creamery is releasing its 2016 Rogue River Blue cheese just in time for the autumnal equinox celebration on September 22. It is a fine year for Rogue River Blue, featuring excellent blue development in the creamy paste and a robust, meaty taste with exceptional elements of the blackberry fruit, toasted nut and hazelnut flavors for which this cheese is known, the company says. This year the Autumnal Equinox falls on September 22nd at exactly 7:21 am PDT. On this day and again in the spring the Earth’s axis makes the night time equal to the daytime which means approximately 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.  For centuries cultures worldwide have celebrated this time of year by honoring abundance, balance, conservation and reflection.

This year’s cheese uses milk only from Rogue Creamery’s own dairy. Grape leaves wrapping the cheese were picked by the Rogue Creamery team and community at a local biodynamic organic vineyard called Cowhorn.

Rogue River Blue is produced at the turning of the season, made with late-season milk produced after the autumnal equinox.  At this time, the cows graze on grasses renewed by cooler temperatures and make milk that is richer and higher in butterfat. It is this special milk, reflective of the unique seasonal influences of the Rogue River Valley, which is the very essence of terroir. Each 5-pound wheel is aged from eight to 12 months.  Rogue River is planning to transition the cheese to organic production next year.

 

Emmi Roth USA Wins Best of Show at Wisconsin State Fair

Marc Druart named Grand Master Cheesemaker

Emmi Roth USA continues its winning ways with a best of show win for its Roth’s Private Reserve at the Wisconsin State Fair Cheese & Butter Contest. In addition, Emmi Roth’s Marc Druart was named the contest’s Grand Master Cheesemaker.

Roth’s Private reserve, which took first place in the smear ripened category beat out 340 other cheeses in 28 classes to win best of show.

Druart, who has been with Emmi Roth USA for five years said, “Seeing our Roth’s Private Reserve be recognized as best in show at the State Fair is a source of pride for all of us at Emmi Roth. We are all passionate about making great cheese and the quality of Roth’s Private Reserve is the result of that passion.”

Roth’s Private Reserve is made in small batches with raw milk in traditional copper kettles. It is aged at least six months in Emmi Roth USA’s cellars where it is washed, brushed, flipped and cared for throughout the aging process. It has won several previous awards including a first place in its category and a 2nd place best of show at the 2015 American Cheese Society.

Pavino cheese, from Emmi Roth USA, also won second place in the smear ripened category.

BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Wins Best in Class

Expert judges at the 2016 American Cheese Society Contest awarded BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella with a first place, best in class blue ribbon at a blind judging in Des Moines, Iowa last week. Touted as the yearly “Cheese Oscars,” the contest drew a total of 1,843 entries, with the highly coveted awards handed out to a packed room of artisan cheesemakers.

“This recognition from the ACS is greatly appreciated and our Cheesemakers will use this award as a reminder to keep their teams focused on quality,” said Gaetano Auricchio, Vice President. “We are the leader in the fresh mozzarella category and work diligently to deliver a consistently fresh and delicious cheese for our customers.”

Along with the first place award, BelGioioso also received a second place ribbon for Burrata in the burrata category. “The fresh, local Wisconsin milk we use is key to our quality,” said Sean Moran, Vice President of Sales. “Our Fresh Mozzarella and Burrata have a delicate, clean flavor and soft, milky texture, the finest available in the market. Along with quality, we also offer options,
from 1-ounce snacking cheeses to 1-pound pre-sliced logs and 2-ounce, 4-ounce and 8-ounce Burrata. Chefs and consumers both enjoy the variety and convenience of BelGioioso.”

  • BelGioioso Cheesemakers were recognized with a total of four awards in the contest.
    • 1st Place Best of Class – Fresh Mozzarella – Fresh Mozzarella Category – Cheesemaker Byron Hall – This soft cheese has a delicate, milky flavor and is perfect in fresh salads, sandwiches and on pizzas.
    • 2nd Place – Burrata – Burrata Category – Cheesemaker Jason Radke – This ball of fresh mozzarella is filled with shreds of mozzarella soaked in cream. Its delicate texture and flavor is best enjoyed fresh on bread as an appetizer.
    • 3rd Place – Mascarpone– Mascarpone Category – Cheesemaker Bill Codr – This fresh, soft cheese has a sweet, creamy flavor and is versatile in both sweet and savory recipes.
    • 3rd Place – Fontina – Traditional Regional Italian Cheeses Category – Cheesemaker Jonathan Stender – This soft cheese has a sweet, buttery flavor, perfect for snacking or melted on pizzas or into sauces.

 

BelGioioso Introduces New Snacking Fontina, Mini Mascarpone and Mini Ricotta

BelGioioso Cheese, Inc. is introducing three new items that meet consumer’s needs for individual sized, portion-controlled snacks.

“Following on the heels of our enormously popular Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese, we decided to expand the line to include a Fontina Snacking Cheese,” states Sean Moran, Vice President of Sales. “At just 70 calories, its mild, buttery flavor truly brings a smile with every bite.”

In addition to the Fontina Snacking Cheese, BelGioioso has created a 3-ounce Mini Mascarpone[TM] cup designed for freshness and convenience and a 5-ounce Mini Ricotta[TM] single-serve cup.

“The Mini Mascarpone and Mini Ricotta are petite sized cups of our all-natural, award-winning cheeses, offering freshness, convenience and portion control for the consumer,” says Moran. “The cheese is packed with protein and calcium and offers a healthier alternative to traditional snacks.”

As with all BelGioioso cheeses, the new offerings are made using traditional Italian cheesemaking methods. They are all-natural, rBST-free, gluten-free and contain no gums or fillers. The Mini Mascarpone cups are a perfect size for a healthier spread option, with each serving at nearly half the calories of butter. The Mini Ricotta cups provide an individual serving of 16 grams of protein and 60 percent of the daily value in calcium and is packaged for use as a single serve breakfast option with fresh fruit and granola, or as a fresh, creamy dip for vegetables. Each mini portion of the Fontina Snacking Cheese is full of flavor and has only 70 calories. Individual packages are printed with the BelGioioso signature snacking smile logo.

Protein continues to be top of mind for consumers in relation to satiety, weight management and sustained energy with 51 percent of consumers seeking out protein rich snacks for their daily diets. With the key drivers of snacking occasions being time, convenience, health, portion control and exploration, BelGioioso’s new Snacking and Mini protein rich cheeses provide a delicious and flavorful snack choice.

The 70-calorie Fontina Snacking Cheese contains three cubes, packaged into individual 0.75-ounce packages and available in 6-ounce retail bags packed 10 per case. The 3-ounce Mini Mascarpone cups are packed 18 cups per case, while the 5-ounce Mini Ricotta cups are packed 12 per case.

Grassmilk Yogurt from Organic Valley

One of the most exciting trends in food today is 100 percent grass-fed dairy. And in the 12 months since Organic Valley introduced its Grassmilk Yogurt in multi-serve tubs, the farmer-owned cooperative has established itself as the number one brand for 100 percent grassfed dairy in the US.

Organic ValleyToday, Organic Valley added to its award-winning Grassmilk Yogurt line by introducing convenient 6- ounce single serve cups with two new flavors– Wild Blueberry and Strawberry, plus the original Plain and Vanilla varieties.

Organic Valley’s Grassmilk Yogurt has won accolades because it’s made from the exceptional organic milk that comes from cows that are 100 percent grass-fed — with no supplemental feed, grain or soybeans in their diet, just lush, fresh pasture and dried forages. The result is a delicate, premium, small-batch yogurt with the seasonal taste of grassmilk dairy. Nutritionally, Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt flows with naturally occurring calcium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s.

Why Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt cups are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the grass-fed trend:

  • Organic Valley is already the fastest growing 100 percent grass-fed yogurt brand, in an exploding category:
    Grass-fed yogurt is growing eight times faster than the overall organic yogurt category (mainstream and natural) – a $85.9 million segment.
  • Organic grass-fed yogurt is growing over five times faster than the overall organic yogurt — a $21.3 million segment.
  • Organic Valley Grassmilk yogurt has higher levels of naturally occurring omega-3s and CLA
  • Organic Valley is always organic, which means Organic Valley never uses antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.

Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt cups will appeal to consumers who are looking for exceptional “beyond organic” taste in new fruit flavors and more convenient packaging.

Like the original tubs, Organic Valley’s Grassmilk Yogurt cups feature cream-on-top, whole milk yogurt crafted from 100 percent grass-fed, non-homogenized organic Grassmilk® milk, along with organic strawberries, organic wild blueberries, organic fair trade vanilla and live probiotic cultures.

Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt cups will be available September 2016 in natural food stores, food cooperatives and major grocery chains nationwide. Suggested retail price is $1.69.

Specialty Food Producers Take Home the Gold

By Lorrie Baumann

La Pasta’s Radicchio, Parsnip & Apricot Ravioli has won the 2016 sofi Award for Best New Product. Radicchio is sauteed with a little bit of balsamic vinegar to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables and then folded into ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese together with roasted parsnips and dried apricots. The filling is then enclosed in La Pasta’s signature pasta with black pepper pasta stripes.

“We got lucky. It happens,” said Alexis Konownitzine, President of La Pasta, “Our chef Kristen made the product and will be at the Fancy Food Show.”

La Pasta already had several sofi Awards for products including its Marinara Sauce and Beet, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Ravioli. This year’s winner was selected from among 23 finalists in the Best New Product category by the sofi judging panel of culinary experts in a blind tasting. Overall, 28 products were named winners and 100 named finalists from among 3,200 entries this year.

This year’s judging diverged from the methodology used for the past couple of years, in that the judging was completed before the Summer Fancy Food Show and winners were named at the same time as finalists. This process was designed to make the judging more fair and transparent, according to the Specialty Food Association, which owns the sofi Awards program. The products were judged by criteria that awarded 70 percent of the product’s score for taste, which included flavor, appearance, texture and aroma and 30 percent for ingredient quality, which included a consideration of whether any of the product’s ingredients were artificial and whether they were combined in a creative or unexpected way. One winner was chosen in each of the 28 judging categories, and the top 4 percent of the entries in each category were named finalists. No awards were presented this year in classic, foodservice or product line categories, which were part of last year’s contest.

CFM_Prosciutto-sliceFinalists for the Best New Product award included Dalmatia Sour Cherry Spread from Atalanta Corporation, Jansal Valley Boneless Prosciutto Toscano D.O.P. from Sid Wainer and Son Specialty Produce and Specialty Food, Organic Stoneground Flakes Cereal — Purple Corn from Back to the Roots and Sliced Prosciutto (Domestic) from Creminelli Fine Meats. “Prosciutto is everywhere in the U.S., but we do it differently, using whole-muscle Duroc pork that’s 100 percent vegetarian-fed with no antibiotics ever. We layer it in the tray by hand instead of by machine,” said Kyle Svete, Creminelli Fine Meats’ Director of Sales for National Accounts. “We invest in people, not machines. It’s part of who we are – people, animal, craft…. We have machines to help us do our job, but it’s really about the people. The recyclable tray and the elegant look of it elevates the product and the category.”

“We’re proud of it. We put the ingredients right on the front of the label,” he added. “That’s all there is to it – time, love, pork and sea salt.”

Chocolate-covered Cocomels – 5 Salts from JJ’s Sweets, Gourmet Honey Spread: Salted Honey from Cloister Honey LLC, Wild Boar Salted Star Anise Single Origin Organic Dark Chocolate Bar from Hagensborg Chocolate Ltd., Original Tangerine Sriracha from Just Jan’s Inc., Mr. Hot Stuff Pepper Spread from Steppin’ Out LLC, Clementine Crush Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Enzo Olive Oil Company/P-R Farms, Inc. and Deschutes Brewery® Black Butte Porter Truffle from Moonstruck Chocolate, Co. were also among the finalists for the Best New Product Award.

JulieAnn CaramelsOther finalists were Pineapple Habanero Caramel from JulieAnn Caramels, Frozen Passion Chia Lassi from Monsieur Singh LLC, Chicken Fat (Schmaltz) Premium Cooking Oil from Fatworks LLC, Avocado Oil Mayo and Licorice Mint Tea from Chosen Foods, Inc., Chili Crunch Bar from Vivra Chocolate, Vegan Stone Ground Hazelnut Butter from Karmalize LLC, Raspberry Amaretto Preserves from Robert Rothschild Farm, Orange Artisan Fruit Cracker from Simple & Crisp, Gluten-Free Coffee Brownie from Savvy Girl Baking Company and Dark Moon from Marin French Cheese Company.

In the remaining categories, Brussizzle Sprouts from Pacific Pickle Works, Inc. was named the best appetizer. The Spice Hunter, Inc.‘s Coriander Lime Global Fusion Rub was named best baking ingredient, baking mix or flavor enhancer, Ginger Hemp Granola from Michele’s Granola LLC was the best in the category for breads, muffins, granola or cereal, and Vermont Creamery‘s Bijou was judged the best cheese. Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche was a finalist for the award both this year and last year.

Money on Honey by Droga Chocolates won the sofi in the chocolate category, and Bittermilk LLC‘s No. 3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour won the award in the cold beverage category. Bittermilk was a sofi finalist last year with the same product. Non-GMO Salted Caramelized Fig Spread from King’s Cupboard was named the best condiment, and Sea Salt & Vanilla Farmstead Goat Milk Caramels from Big Picture Farm LLC received the award for the best confection. Big Picture Farm won sofi Awards last year for best new product with its Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels and for best confection with its Goat Milk Chai Caramels. Moon Dance Baking‘s Holly Baking Cookie Brittle Cinnamon & Spice was named in the category for cookies, brownies, cakes or pie.

Barnier Pimento Sauce with Preserved Lemon from FoodMatch Inc. was named best cooking, dipping or finishing sauce. Cranberry Pistachio “The Original” from Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps was named the best cracker. Epicurean Butter‘s Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter was named in the category for best dairy or dairy alternative product. “The reason this is something really new and innovative is that this is organic pasteurized cream, organic coconut oil, organic honey, organic canola oil, organic cocoa powder and Himalayan pink salt. It’s good on crepes, pancakes French toast. We actually just love it on a baguette,” said Janey Hubschman, who co-founded Epicurean Butter with her husband John, who’s the chef and still does all the formulations for the company’s products. “It’s got a lovely mouth feel with the butter and the coconut oil and then the finish of the salt.” The Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter is part of a product line that includes 13 finishing butters, of which two are organic. The company has just installed new equipment in its plant that allows Epicurean Butter to produce single-serve squeeze packs. Each of those has 190 calories for a 1-ounce serving, and Hubschman expects that the single-serve packaging will draw a lot of interest from the producers of home-delivered meal kits.

bourbon maple hi res (2)Bourbon Matured Maple Syrup from BLiS LLC was named the best dessert sauce, topping or syrup. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate‘s Single Origin Drinking Chocolate 72% Belize, Toledo received the sofi Award for the best hot beverage. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate was a finalist in the chocolate category last year with its 72% Madagascar, Sambirano bar. The Gelato Fiasco‘s Ripe Mango Sorbetto was named the best ice cream, gelato or frozen treat.

Cioccomiel, a spread made from hazelnuts, cocoa and honey, won the sofi Award for the best jam, preserve, honey or nut butter. It is imported by Marcelli Formaggi LLC.

Fermín Chorizo Ibérico Picante / Fermín Ibérico Pork Dry-Cured Chorizo Sausage Spicy from Fermin USA was named the best meat, pate or seafood.

Stöger Organic Austrian Pumpkin Seed Oil was named the best oil. It is imported by Los Chileros, which won a finalist award last year for the same product.

Gustiamo, Inc.‘s Pianogrillo Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce took home the sofi Award for the best pasta sauce, while the best pasta was Pastifico Artigianale Leonardo Carassai, made in Campofilone, Italy, and imported by Bravo International Inc.

NorthAfricanChermouladressingwozzWozz! Kitchen Creations, which won the 2015 sofi Award for best salsa or dip with its Kiwi Lime Salsa Verde takes home the gold in the salad dressing category this year with North African Chermoula Dressing. This year’s award in the salsa or dip category went to American Spoon Foods’ Pumpkin Seed Salsa.

Hickory Smoked Spicy Candied Bacon from Little Red Dot Kitchen LLC won the sofi Award this year in the category for savory snacks. The best sweet snack came from Creative Snacks Co. with its Organic Coconut Bites.

Dinner Tonight Black Bean Tortilla Chili Mix from Backyard Safari Company won the award for best soup, stew, bean or chili. ParmCrisps Mini Aged Parmesan Crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers won the award for the best vegan or gluten-free product. Kitchen Table Bakers was a finalist last year for its Jalapeno Parmesan Crisps. Finally, this year’s best vinegar was Balsamic Nectar from Boulder Flavours.

Gourmet News
Follow me on Twitter