Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: The Hatchery Subscription Box




Hatchery is a subscription box service that collects artisan ingredients and small-batch products from around the United States. Their offerings are things like sauces, oils and spreads, all made by small companies or individuals. The company describes itself as “foodie matchmakers,” connecting producers with customers.

According to the company, its team travels the country to sample products at green markets and family farms to find worthy offerings. The website provides information about many of the producers, along with recipes and other information.

Hatchery customers can order the ingredients individually, but the company also offers a “Tasting Box,” a monthly subscription that provides sample sizes of several products for $20 a month. The Tasting Box is also available as a gift that you can give for 3, 6 or 12 months.

For this review, Hatchery provided a Tasting Box with:


The physical box is sturdy, and the ingredients were well packed on a bed of straw. It is assembled with foresight to survive shipping and rough handling, but in an artistic way. That is, the packaging has a utilitarian purpose, but it's designed to look nice while doing so. (Hatchery offers subscriptions as gifts, and I am sure anyone who likes to sample new tastes would be pleased with it.)  Additionally, a very nice Tasting Guide is including, offering details of each company included and ideas for using the samples.


We spent a day or two looking for good recipes to try our own enticing assortment of ingredients on, and then got to cooking.  The website helpfully provides 2 or 3 recipe ideas for each product they curate, and in some cases we used those.

La Fundidoro Fuego Salsa

Fuego” is Spanish for fire, and this zesty salsa is certainly fiery. Despite the heat, though, it’s also flavorful, striking a balance that eludes many commercial salsas.

La Fundidoro is a husband and wife team, Vitali and Lorena Meschoulam.  Though based in New York, both have roots in Mexico City, and still source their chilies from Mexican farms that use traditional methods of growing and drying them.

Barely a year old, La Fundidoro currently offers three varieties: Fresca is a green salsa with tomatillos and serrano chilies; Humo, tomato-based with chipotle morita and pasilla chilies; and Fuego, with guajillo and arbol chilies.

The Fuego Salsa is quite spicy right out of the jar, but it becomes milder and more flavorful with food. The use of tomatoes, tomatillos and two kinds of chilies builds a complex flavor profile that that is more than just heat.



We tested it using Hatchery’s recipe for avocado eggs.The end product was quite good, but the recipe required some tweaking.  If you give it a try, I recommend these changes:

Use four eggs, not two (you have four avocado halves to fill). Scoop out more than “a bit” of each avocado half; you need to make a pretty deep well to hold an egg. You can reserve the scooped-out avocado meat to serve on the side so it doesn’t go wasted.

Also, you’ll need to cook it at higher heat and for a longer time than they suggest. After five minutes at 400, the eggs were still almost raw; 425 for 15 minutes finally got them cooked.

Once I got them cooked, though, my wife and I ate them with the salsa and found the combination to be marvelous. The heat of the salsa melded with the cool avocado just perfectly. This would be a great breakfast on any morning that you’re willing to go to the effort.  We had ours with fried potatoes and chorizo and some orange slices.

Based on the Fuego, I would be happy to try LaFundidoro’s other varieties. This was the first item I tried out of the Hatchery box, and it was a home run.

Big Island Bees Organic Ohai Lehua Honey

This organic honey was sweet and smooth, and it took some willpower to not eat every morsel in the small sample jar. Like any good natural honey, it is thick and opaque at room temperature, so don’t expect it to pour easily.

Garnett Puett and Whendi Grad are the artisans behind BigIsland Bees. According to the website, they transport their bees to specific locations in Hawaii to harvest nectar, leading to single-floral honeys.

Ohai Lehua is made from the nectar of the Lehua flower, which grows only in Hawaii. It is light-colored and spreadable, and delicately flavored.


For a recipe to try, we chose the Honey Citrus Hot Toddy, using Jim Beam Devil’s Cut bourbon.


This came out perfectly just as the recipe was written, and on a chilly day it makes a perfect warm-up. But the strong flavors of the bourbon and citrus overpower the subtle honey. Alone, the honey reveals its unique character; in the drink, it provides a sweet note but its own character is overshadowed.

That is no knock on the honey, however. In a recipe that features it more prominently, or as a spread on its own, it would shine.

Causey’s Sweet & Smoky Barbecue Sauce

John Causey, a volunteer firefighter and cook, created the first version of his barbecue sauce in 1985, for a competition, drawing on a family recipe and his own ingenuity. Over the next several years, with the help of his daughter, he refined it further. The Hatchery offers three varieties of Causey's Barbecue Sauce: Original, Bourbon Barbecue and the Sweet & Smoky included in the sample box.

The sauce presents a strong aroma upon opening the bottle, the smokiness prominent in a complex mix of scents. The flavor is rich, the sweetness just present without overpowering.

For this one, we created our own recipe, using the sauce as a baste for bunless burgers (read on for the recipe at the end of this review). The sauce runs a little thinner than a typical grocery-store barbecue sauce, but it coated the meat easily and cooked into it thoroughly. The flavor faded into a pleasant background tang, melding with the taste of the meat into a yummy meal.

I also added a dash of the sauce to a bloody mary. The barbecue sauce changed the character of the drink completely from the way I normally make it, but it was a pleasant effect. We finished off the final bit by mixing it with water and using it to add glaze to a stir-fry, which it did perfectly.

We have solid plans to purchase more of Causey's BBQ Sauce - they are made with real food ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup, and that's something that matters a lot to us!

Calivirgin Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil

Next we tried Jalapeño Garlic Olive oil from Calivirgin, a family-owned business that grows its own olives in California.

Calivirgin has achieved a good balance of flavors in this infused oil, with the jalapeño adding a subtle bite but not overpowering the other flavors.

We used it in two simple dishes. First we roasted asparagus using our usual simple method – toss the spears in olive oil, add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt and put in a 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. The jalapeño garlic olive oil complemented the asparagus flavor nicely, allowing the vegetable to shine through.


Next we sautéed onions in the oil to add them to a chickpea curry recipe. Here the unique aspects of the oil were probably less noticeable, as the onions and other flavors in the mix are prominent themselves. While the olive oil certainly did not detract, it added less than it might have without the other strong tasting notes.


Calivirgin offers several other infused oils, along with an unflavored variety.



Potlicker Kitchen’s Strawberry Chipotle Jam

This concoction is simply amazing. Potlicker Kitchen's Strawberry Chipotle Jam is a delicate balance of hot and sweet that lingers on the tongue pleasantly. It was definitely the star of this particular assortment for me.  As with the other items Hatchery showcases, Potlicker Kitchen is a small business that favors locally sourced ingredients and combines flavors in interesting and unusual ways.

We used the Strawberry Chipotle Jam to make the dipping sauce for coconut shrimp, using the Hatchery recipe, and were really impressed with the result. The recipes – for the shrimp and for the sauce – are perfectly designed, although we had to substitute white wine vinegar for rice vinegar in the sauce because we didn’t have the rice wine vinegar on hand. It worked anyway.

The other change we made was to fry the shrimp in coconut oil rather than the specified canola oil. It reinforced the coconut flavor and made the breading a flavorful complement for the meaty shrimp.


Dipped into the sweet-tangy sauce, each bite of shrimp because an explosion of flavor and contrasting textures -- heat, sweet, crunch and fleshiness all blending into a complex and satisfying dish.


Ole Man’s Original Spice Rub and Seasoning

With this same meal, we made a variation of the spiced plantain chips with pomegranate guacamole, also found on the Hatchery site. (Our main variation was leaving out the pomegranate, which made the guacamole more conventional.)

This calls for Ole Man’s Original Spice Rub and Seasoning, sprinkled over the plantains after frying them. The rub has a good balance of flavors, but there is nothing extraordinary here. The flavor on the plantains was so subtle as to be nearly unnoticeable (although to be fair, we did go lightly with it).

I doubt that I would buy it over a similar product from the local store, but the sample was generous and we will use it.  We enjoyed the plantains very much, but I think the rub would be best used on chicken or salmon.

This is a matter of taste preference - bigger BBQ fans will surely appreciate the flavors of Ole Man's.  The owner has spent time in Kansas City and New Orleans, so you know he knows his stuff.

Conclusion

All in all the ingredients from the Hatchery were first-rate, and the sample box itself was well put-together. Most of the recipes we tried were winners, and some we will revisit and make again. I would certainly be interested in trying other items the company offers, and will definitely be ordering some of these in larger sizes.   At $20 per month, I find this subscription to be more than worth the price.

If you'd like to try Hatchery for yourself, they've agreed to offer a $10 discount to our readers for the first box of a subscription. Just enter the code SAVE10 at checkout.

~~@~~


Sweet and Smoky Bunless Cheeseburgers

1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 T. tallow or lard (if ground beef is very lean)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
4 T. Causey's Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce

Combine beef, cheese, fat, seasoning and egg in a bowl, mixing with hands to combine - don't overwork, or the burgers will be tough. Shape into 4 quarter pounder patties. Heat a skillet, adding a small amount of fat, and brown burgers on each side to desired doneness.  Baste each side with Causey's BBQ sauce while cooking.

We served this with roasted cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes.



Shared with:
~ Creative Ways Link Party, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Home & Garden Thursday, Home Sweet Home, The HomeAcre Hop, It's a Party, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Pennywise Platter, Share Your Cup Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Time Travel Thursday
~ Creative Collection, DIY Sunday Showcase, Happiness is Homemade, Inspiration Monday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Our Sunday Best, Share Your Creativity, Silver Pennies Sunday, Submarine Sunday, Sunday Best Linky, Sunday FUNday, Sunday Showcase Party, Think Pink Sunday.     
~ A Round Tuit, Busy Monday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Craftastic Monday, Frugal Crafty Home, Real Food Recipe Roundup, Homemade Mondays, Homestead Barn Hop, Inspiration Monday, Mad Skills Monday, Making Your Home Sing Monday, Masterpiece Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Monday Funday, Mostly Homemade Monday, Motivation Monday, Much Ado About Monday, Natural Living Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, Thank Goodness It's Monday, Tutorials & Tips Party
~ Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Backyard Farming Connection, Be Inspired, Brag About It, Create - Link - Inspire, Fat Tuesday, From Dream to Reality, Good Tips Tuesday, Growing HomemakersHandmade Tuesday, Healthy Tuesday, Hearth & Soul Hop, Knick of Time Tuesday, Made By Me Tuesday, The Scoop, Share It Link Party, Take It On Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Time to SparkleTOO Cute Tuesday, Totally Talented Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Tuesday To Do, Turn It Up Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, You're Gonna Love It Tuesday.
~ Allergy-Free Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Centerpiece Wednesday, Fluster's Creative Muster, Fresh Foods Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Homemaking Link Up, Inspiration Board, Lovely Ladies Linky, Homemaking Party, Milk & Cuddles Link Up, Party On the Porch, Penny Pinching Party, Pretty Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, We Did It Wednesday, Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up, Wednesday Round Up, Wednesday Whatsits, Wellness Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's It Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Work It Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Your Whims Wednesday.        




23 comments:

  1. Well I'm sold lol. Experimenting with new quality food ingredients? Count me in!

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  2. That spicy Strawberry Chipotle sauce and coconut shrimp was so good I've *dreamed* about it.

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  3. this sounds like a wonderful way to try new ingredients

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  4. Great review. Lots of detail and plenty of information, which is very helpful.

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  5. Everything you reviewed sounds wonderful and I really want to try the Strawberry Chipotle Jam. The honey you sampled sounds good too and I'm glad this company supports US food producers and companies. Thanks for the introduction to the Hatchery :)

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  6. Very interesting and I have never heard of the subscription company. I love to try ingredients made by small companies they are usually the best. The burger sounds delicious! Stopping by from HomeAcre Hop.

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  7. Strawberry chipotle jam!? That sounds AMAZING!

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a great week!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  9. I love novel ingredients and flavors! This is perfect for me. I think I'd heard of The Hatchery before, but I didn't understand what it was about, so thank you.

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  10. Wow, it is almost Strawberry season in the Northeast and I'm surely saving your recipe for Strawberry chipotle Jam, it sound mouthwatering.
    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  11. Everything looks and sounds wonderful! We are a lover of sauces here at our house. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  12. How fun! I had never heard of them. Thanks for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop!

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  13. Love little foodie goodies! I would be so in love with a box like this delivered to my doorstep!

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  14. It all sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing at my Creative Ways Link Party!
    Blessings,
    Nici

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  15. Looks yummy! Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Raising Homemakers link up.

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  16. Yummy, this is definitely on my list of Sub boxes to try!

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  17. What a fun way to spice things up in the kitchen!

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  18. What a unique subscription box. I just love artisan products. I would be very interested in subscribing to something like this. It would feel like Christmas every month!

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  19. I would love to check out this subscription sometime! very cool!

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  20. This looks awesome! Looks like a great solution for the never ending "what's for dinner?" problem!

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  21. Thanks for sharing on Mostly Homemade Mondays. I can't wait to see what you link up tomorrow!

    Kelli @ The Sustainable Couple

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  22. boy oh boy I would love to be the recipient of this box - it has everything I'd love to get my hands on to have fun cooking!!! This has products you'd like to try, but often don't because it might not be in your usual repertoire.

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