Chia Seeds

Ever since I discovered chia seeds while creating the recipe for our Strawberry Beet Leather, I’ve started putting chia seeds in everything.  Did you know you can even use chia seeds to help make perfect jam?

Usually jam has tons of sugar in it because the sugar interacts with the pectin in the fruit to act as a thickener. If you leave out the sugar, you get runny jam. This means that most jams you find in the grocery store, and even most recipes for making your own, are all overly sweet. So what happens if you add chia seeds instead of sugar? The chia seeds have a magical thickening property that make them the perfect substitute. 

I’ve started making our own perfectly-sweet strawberry jam. I use roughly 500 grams of strawberries to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and only as much sweetener as we want. You just heat the berries over medium heat until they soften, mash them in a bowl, add the seeds and optional sweetener, and then wait a few minutes until it all thickens. Delightful.

Pretty darn good strawberry jam

Tafel Stuttgart

There’s a neat organization here in Stuttgart called Tafel (Schwäbische Tafel Stuttgart). It collects food which would otherwise be headed for the garbage can and makes it available to people in need. Its stores offer things like like day-old bread, products nearing their expiration dates, or wilted produce, all for deeply discounted prices. Whole loaves of bread which might sell for 3 Euros in the bakery are available for less than 50 cents!

Tafel helps feed those in need.
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Another Mishap

Remember the jerky mishap? A similar thing happened again this week! This time it wasn’t the jerky though, and I can’t blame it on a math error. We’ve been finalizing a brand new product, and food is just so dang unpredictable. So now we have a huge batch of not-perfect new product.

If I can recover before the end of the week, you can come taste it at the farmers market on Saturday. See you there!

The Books

When we started Peapod last year, there were a million things to do all at once. Our biggest priorities were (and still are) getting our products out to customers and hearing their feedback. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of learning and doing. 

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What I’ve Been Listening To

One of my recent favorite podcasts is called Edible-Alpha. It’s hosted by Tera Johnson, founder of Tera’s Whey, and it’s packed full of useful information and insights into the food industry. Tera talks to guests in the food world about how to grow a successful food business. I’ve been tearing through the episodes, soaking up as much as possible. For anyone interested in the food industry, I think you’ll find it fascinating. 

Pricing and Retail Markups

The last few months have been a study of product pricing. The big question was: how much are customers willing to pay for our product? I was eager to collect lots of data since I didn’t have a good feel for market prices. What I didn’t realize is that we were also gathering valuable information on retail markups. 

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Our First Disaster

It was the day our first batch of customer-ready jerky was finished. I had hardly slept the night before out of excitement. James and Kiddo met me at the kitchen so we could package it up together. 

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Notes on Fennel Seeds

Here’s a picture of our Old Country Road jerky. Notice the fennel seeds on top?

classic country road beef jerky
Our Old Country Road jerky.
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Customer Feedback

I’m learning a lot by talking to customers. I get all sorts of feedback: some positive, some negative, and a whole range in between. Here are a couple of gems. 

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Lab Tests

James can confirm that one of my favorite activities is looking up ingredients and nutritional content of different foods. So when we sent our beef jerky to the lab for tests, I was delighted. The health department encourages food companies to get lab tests, but I didn’t need much persuading. I wanted to know exactly what was in our jerky.

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