While searching for our next product, one of the things we noticed was that the interest and demand for all natural handcrafted products had risen dramatically since the last time we catered to the retail market, so we concluded that the actual products we made were not as relevant as the style in which we made them.
With this in mind we started looking at making hand crafted artisan cheeses such as cheddar and gouda we made a few batches of these cheeses but when we started going to the farmer’s markets we soon found that this category of cheeses were already very well represented by highly skilled artisan crafters. While our cheeses were well received and there was plenty of demand so we wouldn’t be displacing anyone these products were no longer niche products by our definition so we kept looking for our special niche.
It didn’t take long before we found that potential in yogurt while there is a large variety of yogurt on the market, this is mainly supplied by the larger commercial dairy plants with virtually no representation by hand crafted artisan yogurt makers.This realization was very exciting and before long we had developed a product that we were proud to bring to the market place in the way of a hand crafted “Whole Milk” yogurt made from “Non-Homogenized” milk. Because we don’t homogenize the milk there is a thin layer of cultured cream that rises to the surface of the yogurt and forms a thin layer on top.
We have been providing our natural hand crafted yogurt on a limited basis since 2012 just to test the viability of the market, once it was established that there was enough of a demand for the product I had to take on apprentices and start training a team of individuals in the ways of handcrafting yogurt.
One of the other factors that started to become apparent when we started making yogurt is the public awareness of the benefits of probiotics and when we looked into the scientific research regarding probiotics the one product that kept being thrust into the forefront is kefir. Kefir made from the kefir grains is described as the single most complex probiotic product available. Even Dr. Oz of Oprah fame has listed Kefir on his list of the top 10 “Super Foods”, as well as practitioners in the medical and nutritional fields advising people to increase their consumption of probiotics.
When we went into stores to conduct market research and measure the market presence of kefir, we were astounded to find that not only is there no artisan hand crafted kefir available but there is virtually no kefir available on the market at all.
With this being the case, we felt we had found our next specialty niche product and started working with the kefir grains to develop our production methods. Kefir is an extremely tricky product to work with due to the numerous strains of probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeasts contained in the matrix of the kefir grains. Our research led us to a method described as the “Russian Method” to make our kefir which was developed in Russia in the 1950’s.
My favorite recipe is a breakfast Smoothie I developed for a quick easy nutrition packed day starter
Add all ingredients into blender and blend till desired consistency. My pet name for the smoothie is the “Probi-omega” because of high content of probiotics from the kefir and omega 3’s in the flax seed.