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Rural Cannery Makes Hot Pepper Butter, Salsas And Sauces
If you’ve never eaten hot pepper butter, Amber Kuemerle says you should order a jar from her website, or stop in at one of the stores around Berlin, Ohio, that carry her products.
  Hot pepper butter is made with mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and Hungarian wax peppers. The creamy condiment adds new punch to hot dogs, hamburgers, dips and egg, macaroni and potato salads.
  “It was a family recipe that we canned only for ourselves, until people told us they wanted to buy it,” she explains.
  As she and her husband, Jason, considered how to get started, they learned Zifers, a local business, was interested in selling the rights to their spaghetti, marinara and other sauces.
  “It was already something that was marketed, so this was our foot in the door,” Kuemerle says.
  After working with the elderly owners in 2004 to learn the process and recipe, the Kuemerles purchased the business in 2005 and started their business, Starfire Farms. Kuemerle cooks and cans in a 30 by 45-ft. state and federally-inspected kitchen they built next to their Sugarcreek, Ohio, home.
  Kuemerle tweaked the recipes and eliminated artificial thickeners and shelf stabilizers that aren’t necessary if you use quality ingredients like thicker tomato varieties and follow canning temperature guidelines. After about a year, she got the process down for Zifer products, and started working with the hot pepper butter recipe.
  “When you are going from a 6-quart recipe to 40 gal. you have to modify,” she explains, noting that she cooks everything in two 40-gallon water-jacketed, gas-powered kettles.
  For several years the couple grew the peppers themselves, growing as many as 2,000 plants. They wanted the peppers to have more heat consistency than the peppers they purchased through a wholesaler. With three active children, farm chores and Jason working full-time, growing the peppers became too time consuming. So, they contract with a local Amish grower for all their peppers, including sweet peppers they use in their salsas. They freeze enough hot banana and Hungarian wax peppers to can product year-round.
  “Our salsa is a recipe I combined from two recipes,” Kuemerle says. “It’s unique because we grind everything. It’s textured, not chunky.” Starting with a sweet salsa base, she has created a few varieties including spicy, mild, peach, and pineapple.
  Kuemerle works fulltime canning 12 different products that she sells wholesale through distributors and directly to businesses in her region. She also opened Starfire Farms Country Store in Berlin to sell her products, her husband’s horseshoe art (Facebook: Ja-Bec Art) and other products made locally.
  Retail price for all products is $7 with the hot pepper butter in 12-oz. jars, the salsas in 16-oz. jars, and the sauces in 32-oz. jars. The online pay system includes shipping discounts to reduce the cost to customers, and products have been shipped all over the U.S.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Starfire Farms, Sugarcreek, Ohio (ph 330 591-2226; www.starfirefarms.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2