Summer veggie snack mix: Product development and processing of excess summer vegetables into a value-added dried snack mix and soup blen
My goal is to utilize excess summer vegetables; zucchini, yellow summer squash, green beans and tomatoes, in a seasoned dried form. Through working with two local chefs in the development of a product, a Summer Veggie Snack Mix, and Soup Blend will be the end result.
Background on farm / updated:
Our diversified flower and vegetable farm experienced a late drought in 2008. Because all of our water resources were exhausted, we contracted to have an irrigation pond developed including installation of a pond liner. We identified that lack of water was our most limiting factor in our farming operation. For the 2009 growing season, it should not be an issue.
How did this affect the accomplishment of our goal? It was just one of the factors. Because of the extremely dry growing condition in 2008, we did not have any excess late summer vegetables to use for this project. However; we had a surplus in June – July which we did some preliminary experimenting with.
Our 3 acres of vegetables and specialty cut flowers produced a marginal crop for a seasonal average.
Cooperators / Roles:
Tim Rodgers, Chef and owner of Blackwell’s Restaurant in Lewisburg, WV agreed to be my main cooperator and one of two technical advisors for my project. Tim was to assist me in the initial product development of the Summer veggie Snack Mix; determining the seasonings to be applied to the vegetables , evaluating different recipes. Having many years of experience in food preparation, Tim was to help me determine the appropriate drying times for each vegetable ingredient.
The other members of my product development team or tasting team; Jack Dunbar, Stacy Reeves, and Kay Davis, were to become involved with sampling and evaluating the product once Tim and I worked with it to get several different recipes to try.
By Tim’s recommendations ,in July, I sliced and dehydrated the following vegetables; tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and yellow summer squash to evaluate their natural flavor, texture and general appearance. I also took the same fresh vegetable ingredients and coated them with two different commercially available salad dressings – Zesty Italian and Greek Vinaigrette before dehydration. I met with Tim to evaluate these initial ingredients in my snack mix. I also saved a portion to share with some “food-savvy” friends.
My friends served the seasoned veggies with crackers, and over pasta. We determined that the flavor was outstanding; very concentrated, served over pasta. We agreed that this could potentially be a shelf stable product, capturing the flavors of summer, that could be enjoyed well after the growing season ended. The dried veggies served with crackers were less palatable, not because of their flavor, but because of their chewy texture.
The samples I left with Tim were never evaluated by him, nor did I get any further involvement from him. After several weeks and no return calls, I discovered that he had no longer existed in our community and that his business was no more. It has since been determined that he had relocated to somewhere else.
The timeframe of this took me into mid-August, dry weather and no water to irrigate vegetables to get excesses for this project. I did however continue to dehydrate extra and blemished tomatoes which I have stored to use early this season. Because I never got to the excess level, and beyond experimentation, I did not purchase any supplies or materials to do so. I will acquire all proposed in my grant this year.
Results to Date:
Because of the lack of cooperation, and existence of my initial cooperator and main technical advisor, Tim Rogers of Blackwell’s restaurant, I was not able to develop a quantity of product to be sampled and properly evaluated.
The sampling with my friends; serving the dried, seasoned veggies over pasta, gives me another idea / use, not initially thought about.
I have recently acquired a new chef-cooperator, and technical advisor, to help me with the development of my product; Stephen Jackendoff, owner and chef of Julian’s Restaurant in Lewisburg, WV. I have supplied his establishment for many years with our fresh veggies and flowers. Julian’s has been serving local foods since the mid 1980’s and Stephen is an avid supporter of the Lewisburg Farmers Market and active member in the community. I am confident he will be an even better edition to my product development team.
With the development of our irrigation pond, water will not be an issue this year for growing crops. I am planning an early planting schedule to insure excesses of the veggies ; squash, tomatoes and beans, for this project. Work at Julian’s Restaurant is in Lewisburg, as Blackwell’s was, so I do not anticipate any changes or adjustments.
N/A too early to determine
New Ideas: Seasoned dried summer veggies made a great meal when served over pasta, a use initially not considered.
P.O. Box 586
Lewisburg, WV 24901
Office Phone: 3046477408