Behind the Scenes: Luke's House-Brand Products!

August 30, 2019

Behind the Scenes: Luke's House-Brand Products!

After a long hiatus, we’re back with more Luke’s Local blog posts! 


As you may have seen on our social media pages, we recently went up to Petaluma to visit the production facility that makes some of our house-brand products. From fresh tomatoes to full jars packed neatly in boxes ready to be put on the shelves, we were lucky enough to see it all unfold before our eyes. Read on to learn more about Preserve Farm Kitchens and get a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing Marinara sauce they make for us.

 


Preserve Farm Kitchens, founded and owned by Merrilee Olson, is a Good Food Awards winner and CCOF-certified facility that produces quality sauces and preserves from farm to jar. Merrilee originally started the company as a way to work with local farms to turn excess and unsellable produce into shelf-stable goods, extending the life of the produce that would otherwise go unused and uneaten. Preserve Farm Kitchens also uses this method to help farmers to create their own jarred goods and sell them to recapture profits they would have lost otherwise. By doing so, this further reduces food waste and helps small farmers, all while producing excellent products for customers to enjoy. Local, fair-trade, and sustainable goods are in high demand, and Preserve Farm Kitchens created a successful model that benefits everyone.


All of our jars of Crushed Early Girls, Marinara Sauce, and Strawberry Preserves are all produced by Preserve Farm Kitchens! They use organic produce from local farms to create a variety of products; the strawberries for our preserves come from the famous Rodriguez Farms in Watsonville (Merrilee told us “they are famous all the way down to the Malibu farmer’s markets!”). For the other two products, organic Early Girl tomatoes come in from Jacobs Farms and Mariquita Farms; both use dry farming methods to be more eco-conscious and to produce a better flavor. All of the produce that comes into the Petaluma kitchen is top-quality and organic, ensuring an amazing final product. 


On the day we visited Merrilee at the Preserve Farm Kitchens facility, the team was hard at work making jars of our Luke’s Local brand marinara sauce. The process takes a few hours from start to finish, and the 4-person team can crank out well over 100 jars. Since we want to keep the recipe simple and highlight the fresh tomatoes, the process is streamlined to retain as much flavor as possible:


- Tomatoes come in to the facility from the farm.
- The tomatoes are then transferred to giant pots, where they are cooked and seasoned. For the marinara sauce, the team purees the tomatoes to ensure a smooth consistency.
- Once the tomatoes are properly cooked and have developed the perfect flavor and texture, they are pumped out of the pot and filled into glass jars. 
- The jars are then lidded and flipped to create the seal/vacuum that will keep the sauce fresh and shelf-stable.
- Jars are then labeled and packed into cardboard boxes, ready to be sent to the store.

from L-R: Cita, Rosalba, Betty, Sarah


Something Merrilee informed us of is when the tomatoes begin their journey to becoming a sauce, there’s a lot of excess water from the fruit that doesn’t go into the final product. On its own, the tomato water is surprisingly sweet and perfectly refreshing for a warm day (and we definitely needed it - Petaluma was 95° the day we visited!). 


However, the amazing team at Preserve Farm Kitchens found an even better way to use the runoff tomato “water” so that no part of the produce is going to waste: Bloody Mary mix! Yes, that’s correct: Luke’s Local will soon have its own Bloody Mary mix made from the tomato water byproduct of our Crushed Early Girls and Marinara Sauce!! Keep an eye out on our social media pages for updates, it will be hitting the shelves soon!

 

We’re so excited to work with Preserve Farm Kitchens, as supporting local businesses and farms is very important to us; it’s in our name! A huge thank you to Merrilee and the rest of the Preserve Farm Kitchens team for welcoming us with open arms and creating some amazing products that we are proud to have on our shelves. 






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