Sauerkraut In The City
Meet Eva, owner of St. Jacobs Foods, find out about her business and what it takes to make amazing sauerkraut.
There are few foods that people have very strong opinions about. Cilantro, love it or hate it. Liver, love it or hate it. Sauerkraut, love it or hate it. For Eva it is a love. A more recently discovered love but a love just the same. Eva is the owner of St Jacobs Foods, a company specializing in natural sauerkrauts and sauerheads. Eva was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions regarding her unique profession.
1) What made you get into the sauerkraut industry?
It was just by coincidence. I came to Canada with the intention of learning English. The family I was living with introduced me to Richard, a vegetable farmer and convinced him to give me a job. I started working for him without even knowing how to drive a tractor or say 'cabbage' in English. I grew up in a small city in Czech Republic and never pictured myself making sauerkraut or growing vegetables. I came to Canada on a 1 year visa. Shortly after arriving I was intrigued by Richards' business and this new lifestyle I was being introduced to. The beginning of my work with Richard was tough and the work was not easy, but Richard was very patient with me and taught me everything from driving a tractor to making sauerkraut. It quickly became a dream of mine to stay in Canada. With a lot of help from Richard, over the next 5 years, I worked my way to become a permanent resident. When Richard decided to retire, my husband Tim and I decided that we wanted to continue making sauerkraut.
2) Do you grow everything you make your sauerkraut out of?
No, we do not grow all of the cabbage. We have a few growers in Gorrie that have been growing cabbage for the past 3 seasons. We grow our own cabbage as well but not enough to make all of our sauerkraut with.
3) In an article in the Ontario Farmer, I saw a picture of you stomping on sauerkraut. What does that process do?
The stomping of sauerkraut is a very important part of the process. It removes air pockets as well as helps release the juice out of the cabbage. Every batch is different. Depending on the maturity and the kind of cabbage, it is quite the skill to know how long to stomp. Plus, it is great exercise!
4) Is there something about the process of making sauerkraut that your consumers wouldn't know?
Some people do not realize that we do not add any additives or preservatives and that we do not pasteurize our sauerkraut. That is what makes us unique.
5) You have been very busy working on getting a SQF certificate for your business. Can you tell us what that certificate is and what it means for you and your business?
SQF stands for Safe Quality Food. It is a food safety program that is recognized by retailers and food service providers around the world who require a rigorous, credible food safety management system. Products produced and manufactured under the SQF Code certification retain a high degree of acceptance in global markets. For us, having SQF Certification means so much because it is designed for big companies with many more employees than we have. We are hoping it will open doors for us in other Canadian provinces.
So whether you are cooking up a sausage and sauerkraut dinner, making a Rueben sandwich, or the ever classic cabbage rolls, don't forget about St Jacobs Foods. You can find their products at many local retailers.