Excalibur Seasoning: Part 7 - R&D, Custom Blends, New Flavors
Excalibur Seasoning: Part 7 - R&D, Custom Blends, New Flavors
Learn about Excalibur Seasoning and why you should trust them to blend your seasonings. In part 7, you'll get answers to frequently asked questions about Excalibur Seasoning's "Excalibur Innovation Center", plus FAQ about Custom Blended Seasonings and New Flavor Profiles. Watch the video, read the highlights here, and then post your comments or questions below.
In this episode we talked with John Brewer, the VP of Sales & Marketing at Excalibur Seasoning, about Excalibur Seasoning, their R&D lab, and how custom blends and new flavor profiles are created.
Does Excalibur Seasoning have an R&D department?
They do have an R&D department, which is one thing very unique about them in the industry and what they offer with their R&D lab, plus the people and staff that they’ve assembled to run their “Excalibur Innovation Center”. According to John Brewer, Excalibur Seasoning has one of the best research chefs in the industry, Marlo Mastalerz, and what she is able to develop, the timeline, and turn around for products is incredible in both duplication and new product development.
Can Excalibur duplicate a seasoning blend from another seasoning company, and how does that work?
If a customer is currently buying from another seasoning company, Excalibur Seasoning can match and duplicate that product in the Excalibur Innovation Center. In many circumstances, they can also clean the label up, extend the shelf life and enhance the product’s appearance on the shelf.
How are new flavor profiles created?
New flavor profiles can be created solely by the Excalibur Innovation Center, or it could come from a saleman from Excalibur or Walton’s, or it may come from a customer as a new request for something new, different, or a similar rendition of something existing.
How much do you have to buy to be able to order custom blended seasoning?
For dry seasonings, Excalibur Seasoning has what might be some of the lowest minimums in the industry. Only 100 pounds are required for a custom blend. Many competitors have raised their minimums to 1,000 pounds or more, but Excalibur remains unique by offering a very small minimum of only 100 pounds. Those low minimums allow small and independent processors and others to be unique themselves in their own market place without having to adhere to minimums that are simply unattainable at the 1,000 pound level.
What about minimums for liquid sauce or marinade?
Excalibur also has extremely low minimums for liquids. At only 150 gallons, their minimum is pretty much unheard of in the industry. One of Excalibur Seasoning’s strong points is their ability to produce smaller volumes of seasonings and sauces that others in the industry simply cannot or do not offer.
What is needed to duplicate a seasoning blend and make a new custom blend?
It is extensive, but we make it as easy and painless for a customer as possible. Some of the steps and things needed are:
- Product development form questionaire and ingredient statement
- Formulation of seasoning, if possible
- Physical sample to to review aesthetics
- What is the application, what is it going on, and how much is typically used per batch?
- Does the customer want to exact and identical ingredient statement, or can Excalibur help clean up the label, and make sure the label is following marketplace guidelines.
- Excalibur will begin formulation, and prepare the product as the customer would to compare real-world performance of that seasoning
- Excalibur sends the new seasoning formulation back to the customer for approval, or for necessary tweaking, editing, and a second re-formulation.
Is there a cost for duplicating or matching a seasoning and making a custom blend?
For dry seasoning blends, there is no cost and it is done free of charge.
For liquids and sauces, it is a lot more complicated, so a $500 deposit is required before development. Then, that is refunded back to the customer after the product is approved and the customer has bought a specified amount once they are a customer. This helps cover some basic costs, but is not meant to be a profit center for Excalibur.
Why would a home processor, independent meat processor, large food processor, grocery store, restaurant, etc. trust Excalibur to blend their seasonings?
Consistency. Simply put, Excalibur is going to produce a high quality, safe product, with a high level of integrity and consistency that is hard to beat in any other method. Some customers are afraid of letting go of their proprietary blend that has been in their company or family for generations, but Excalibur has a high level of integrity and guarantees that the customer’s formula is not going to go anywhere or be shared with anyone else. Only that customer has access to their custom blend.
Why are Excalibur’s products so consistent?
Going back to Excalibur’s SQF Level 3 certification, they are going to produce a high quality and safe product, that is consistent and always documented. Batches and lots are always compared visually and by taste to the previous batch and lot. Every ingredient is tracked on the input and output, and they guarantee consistency, repeat-ability, and trace-ability.
Do minimums for custom blends also apply to private label seasonings?
Many private label seasoning are simply an existing Excalibur Seasoning blend. When that is the case, there is no minimum. If a private label seasoning is also a custom blend, then there still is the 100 pound minimum for dry blends or 150 gallon minimum for liquids and sauces.
Just an FYI, everybody that received snack sticks for Christmas last year loved them… I just ordered another batch of Willie’s Snack Stick spice blend to do it again this year!
Jonathon, I have to agree that 275 is too hot… If you have the time I’d shoot for 225, but if it needs to be “done”, then 250 would be the max I would do…
I have always filled the water pan for everything I smoke… 2 reasons, first it does tend to add moisture during the long cook thus keeping the bark from turning to shoe leather… and second because the water pan acts as a heat sink and helps maintain the temperature (in my vertical propane smoker) a bit more accurately… I’ve heard folks tout using apple juice in the water pan to impart a sweeter flavor, but I’ve never tried it…
On the other hand, my dad smoked for years, mostly in a converted fridge with an electric hotplate in the bottom… he never used a water pan and never had an issue with dry meat…
As for the type of wood to use, that’s just a trial and error, personal preference thing… I happen to like steaks cooked with oak… that may be too strong a flavor for your taste (my GF hates it)… Recently I have been using a lot of maple for NC bbq, chicken and even cheese… I like the maple for the meats, but next batch of cheese will go back to the hickory / cherry mix that I was using…
I followed the instructions on the video. It may have something to do with the sausage not getting as firm as it should. I used the cotto salami on duck breast with pork fat. It sure tastes good. But it’s a little soft.
I’ve done a lot both ways. I would highly recommend a stuffer and I have the Weston grinder with the auger stuffing attachment. It’s slow, but if you’re doing 5# or 10# batches, it’s not that bad. I’ve had small 5# stuffer, old school cast iron Enterprise, 11# vertical and now a 35# hydraulic. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t trade the hydraulic but the 11# vertical I got on amazon had a lot of versatility. I think your bigger decision should be what type of stuffer should I buy. I would recommend the taller, smaller diameter instead of the large shorter one. The smaller diameter allow for a higher pressure for doing sticks with cure in them. The large short ones would be great for doing pork sausage or larger diameter casings, not 19-22mm sticks with cure. It would be fine as long as you’re doing fresh like breakfast or something like that. If you go the stuffer route I’d get it from Waltons and get the Weston-they stock parts, other no name from amazon is a one shot deal, once ours broke couldn’t find parts. Plus they have so many tube sizes now and Walton’s does a great job helping with casing and stuffing horn sizes, they carry them all.
I purchased a stuffer off Amazon for under $100 and would never go back to using the grinder. With the grinder, it was always a two man job and took forever. The stuffer is much faster and have no problems doing it all by myself. Plus with a hand crank stuffer, no electricity usage and wear and tear on your grinder.
Thank You Sir: