To Market Pantry: Kitchen Garden Farm
BY LISA ZWIRN / PHOTOS MICHAEL PIAZZA
On their 50-acre organic Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, not far from UMass Amherst, wife-and-husband team Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox grow a large variety of vegetables, including more than 40 kinds of hot peppers. These range from medium-hot jalapeño, serrano, Hungarian Hot Wax and Cherry Bomb to hotter habanero and Scotch bonnet to the hottest-of-the-hot ghost pepper, recently surpassed, says Pam, by the Trinidad Scorpion and Carolina Reaper. “They’re not for the meek,” she says.
Three years ago, facing an abundance of peppers, the couple started making sriracha. The style of sauce, originated in Thailand, has a complex fruity, garlicky note with a less vinegary taste and more body than other hot sauces, explains Pam. To make sriracha, a small crew grinds a half-dozen or so different peppers with garlic, sugar and salt, then leaves the mixture to ferment for about a week. They force the mash through a food mill to remove skins and seeds, then mix the juice with vinegar and cook it into sauce. Kitchen Garden Farm makes three strengths: regular, habanero and a new (limited) ghost pepper. Last year, they processed 18,000 pounds of peppers to yield about 32,000 bottles of sriracha. Because of last summer’s drought, Pam says the peppers were extra hot. Consider that a warning as you squeeze the brightly colored, zesty sauce all over your food.