Pete's Living Greens' Senior Director of Marketing, Corrie Hutchens, Talks New Product Offering Salicornia
CARPINTERIA, CA - If you are anything like me, you have an insatiable appetite for properly seasoned dishes—and by seasoned, I mean salty. Therein lies the danger. How can consumers get dishes tasting just right without going over the edge with salting habits? Pete’s Living Greens is the latest producer to provide answers to culinary problems with fresh produce.
The company's newest release is salicornia, commonly referred to as sea beans, and it looks a little like something that you might find while on a dive in Hawaii's beautiful seas, with bulb-like bits that snap off for easy use. This is the latest addition to its flourishing living greens line.
“We just started selling our salicornia after two years of trials. It’s a really unique offering with a unique flavor profile and is a bit salty. From a foodservice and food pairing perspective, it works great. If you are craving specific foods, like seafood, it is a natural version of the salt you find near the ocean. The benefit of our salicornia is that we grow it with the root still attached so that it stays fresher longer,” Senior Director of Marketing Corrie Hutchens shares with me.
I first tried these bead-like greens at this year's Fresh Produce and Floral Council event, where I was drawn in by its unique appearance—and then stuck around because of its incredible taste. Since then, though, the company has begun harvesting for foodservice. While the jumping off point for this latest produce is rather recent, the seed for its success was planted a while ago.
“We have had a lot of good communications with customers. It started when we put our name in the hat at NRA’s FABI Awards and got selected as the winner. That has been really exciting,” Corrie tells me of the company’s history with the product before expanding on what the item can be paired with. “From a flavor profile, it is similar to a caper. What we like about it is, while capers are dark green and don’t stand out too much on the plate, salicornia is vibrant and pops in dishes. You can eat it fresh, by steaming it, or throwing it fresh on a salad. You can batter them and deep fry them like a snack, or you can just steam them for a couple minutes and eat them like edamame. Add a little bit of garlic butter and it’s amazing!”
While not available for retail just yet, the item makes an incredible addition for foodservice providers because of its long shelf-life due to the attached roots.
“We currently have packages for foodservice in five lb products with roots attached. Each package holds between 12 and 16 plants. The shelf-life is more than 18 days, and it really holds up great,” Corrie shares, before expanding on the company’s openness to teaming up with partners to play up its versatility and usefulness in dishes. “We want to build excitement around the menu in new and different ways. Everyone’s so excited when they see it. It’s so unique, and I see a big future for the item. It’s an alternative for salt—and a very healthy alternative at that—and is going to take off.”
With so much to offer, I ask Corrie what the methodology was behind the exploration of this newest item.
“We want to build and develop products that are niche and that differentiate us from everyone else,” she tells me.
This makes me wonder what terrain is the next to be explored on the fresh produce front.