I was blessed to have been raised in a farming family where I worked in the fields as a child alongside my parents, sister and cousins. My father farmed with his two brothers while I was growing up and our family remained close because our farm was not just a business but a family affair. Today, nearly all my cousins remain active in farming. Some have branched off to their own farming ventures, but one has made a unique niche in flavored nut products.
My cousin owns and operates Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine products where she grows, packs and ships a variety of flavored nuts, butters, desserts and more. The simple soy tamari almond is my favorite, but the mint chocolate covered is a close second, then there is my Auntie’s almond butter pie, and we can’t forget the cowboy bbq. I am just making myself hungry now…so let’s get back to her story.
I went to visit Maisie when I was home for a weekend and it was refreshing to see her young daughter at work with her learning the business at a young age. I love that farming provides an opportunity for the whole family to be involved. Just as my dad took my sister and I to work with him, I am happy to see family still has the opportunity to be able to do the same thing. Farming is truly a family business.
I was excited when Maisie offered to give me a tour of their facility. A few years back she was busting at the seams of their small rented facility in town so she made the leap to renovate an existing facility and build their own custom processing facility and dry storage. They are also getting ready for the addition of a cold storage building on site as well, to better help them manage inventory on site with their growing demands.
She and her husband have their own almond orchards now that they farm, the product is hulled and shelled at her brother’s huller down the street, then steam pasteurized to meet organic standards and everything is brought back home to her processing facility to make the yummy flavored nuts we enjoy.
|Getting ready for our tour|
First, they dry roast all the nuts themselves in house. There are two giant fire roasters the nuts tumble through before they start their journey. The day I was there for a visit they were making cashew butter. Maisie has a full line of nut butters which include cashew, almond and chocolate hazelnut.
Once the nuts are dry roasted they are poured across drying racks to cool down their temperature. Then they are churned into butter. It is as natural as that, no fillers and additives here! The butter is poured into jars and sealed for freshness. Once the lids are placed on the jars then the plastic seal is heated up to form a tight bond around the jar. Labeled, stamped and ready to ship off to a store near you!
|Nuts getting ready to head up into the butter churner|
|Finished butter being bottled|
|Bottled butter being labeled|
The process is similar for her flavored nuts. They are dry roasted in the same barrel style fire roasters and dried to cooling. Then the nuts are bathed with Maisie’s own flavor recipes and spun to take off any excess coating. The flavored nuts are then cooled and bagged in their appropriate sizes, labeled and ready to buy.
Maisie’s flavored nut products are the perfect little snacks but they also make for great gifts, desserts or a delicious addition to your meal. And I am not just saying this because she is my cousin, this stuff is addicting and amazing!
No disclaimer here, I am not being paid or bought off for this endorsement, just good old fashioned sharing of my secrets to you.
Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny