Farm to bottle: celebrating our local, fermented Hot Sauce

Our local, fermented jalapeño and garlic hot sauce!

Our local, fermented jalapeño and garlic hot sauce!

As we settle into this fall transition, we reflect with gratitude on another successful growing season in the Berkshires. This summer and fall, we've grown two varieties of cabbage, carrots, garlic, jalapeño and sweet red peppers, and various other storage crops for our own personal consumption. We've also continued to partner with local, sustainable farms in the region, which include: Atlas Farm in South Deerfield, MA; MX Morningstar Farm in Copake, NY; Winter Moon Roots in Hadley, MA; Red Fire Farm in Montague, MA; and Abode Farm in New Lebanon, NY. Thank you to all of our farmers! Your work is essential to building a thriving and sustainable local food economy, and we are so happy to be a part of what you do.  

And while many of our ferments combine ingredients from multiple farms (including our own), our hot sauce is the exception, prepared with jalapeños and garlic exclusively grown by us on farmland right near our kitchen in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This season we were blessed with an abundant pepper crop, and amazed at the flavor and spice of our jalapeños and sweet red peppers. And the jalapenos, of course, are the primary ingredient in our fermented hot sauce.

Our co-founder Maddie Elling processing peppers in the kitchen. 

After harvesting, the jalapeños are processed in our kitchen and fermented with sea salt in the same way that we prepare our sauerkraut and kimchi: using the traditional lacto-fermentation method of combining vegetables, sea salt, and time. Part magic, part microbiology, the fermentation process enhances the flavor and probiotic content of our hot sauce, creating a flavourful, sour tang without the addition of vinegar.

This year, we are also experimenting with new hot sauce recipes. Many of you have seen our jalapeño hot sauce appear in both red and green varieties. This is the result of producing the same recipe with red, ripe jalapeños and green, fresh jalapeños. Moving forward, we are now experimenting with a distinct, additional recipe to differentiate the two colors in both appearance and taste, and to provide a milder variety for those who prefer a hot sauce with less fire. Stay tuned!

And so keep an eye out for our hot sauce at select retail locations and various farmer's markets in the region, including Berkshire Grown in Great Barrington and Williamstown, MA; Basilica Farm and Flea in Hudson, NY; the Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfield, MA; and GBAM, the GB Arts Market in Great Barrington, MA. Locally grown and naturally fermented, we see our hot sauce as a celebration of local agriculture and the community of farmers, retailers, and customers that makes what we do possible. 

At work in the garlic patch this summer: this garlic also produces the garlic scapes used in our Scape Kraut!

Summertime Eatin'

Summer is the best time to hang outside and eat. One place we love is The Bistro Box in Sheffield, MA. They are known for their tasty sandwiches and delectable seasonal sides like spring fries with wild ramp pesto, balsamic mushrooms and monterey chèvre. Pictured below is their Roadside Rueben, featuring our Crimson Kraut. Something I might have to replicate for lunch one of these days..

  • Turkey
  • Swiss
  • Crimson Kraut (as much as you'd like!)
  • Russian Dressing
  • Thick Cut Rye


Dinner With Friends

 It's that time of year, the days are shorter, you have to force yourself out of the house to socialize, but it's important, and rewarding!

Below I share a recipe for a Choucroute Garni, an Alsatian recipe a friend prepared for us a few weeks ago. Choucroute Garni is composed of various meats and potatoes simmered together on a bed of Sauerkraut. It's absolutely delicious, especially with Riesling and friends around a big table.

Choucroute Garni

  • 3 pounds of sauerkraut, washed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Big chunk of salt pork, soaked in water to remove excess salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-pound piece smoked pork loin (not ready-to-eat)
  • 12 frankfurters, 6 knockwurst, or other hearty sausages
  • 1 pre-cooked Polish kielbasa
  • 12 potatoes
  • Mustard


Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Put washed sauerkraut in a stockpot with chicken stock. If you like, use beer or white wine for part of the liquid. Add a big chunk of soaked salt pork, garlic cloves, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Put frankfurters or knockwurst and kielbasa in with the sauerkraut for the last 20 minutes to heat through.

Roast smoked pork loin the oven about 25 minutes per pound, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 170ºF. Boil potatoes in their jackets separately, then peel.

When it comes time to assemble the dish, drain the sauerkraut and mound it in the center of a big platter. Slice the pork loin and arrange around the sauerkraut. Garnish with sliced kielbasa and salt pork, whole frankfurters or knockwurst, and peeled potatoes. Serve with hot mustard, such as a Düsseldorf or German-type mustard, or French Dijon.

6 servings
Recipe credit James Beard Foundation

April showers bring...lots of events!

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Market season is upon us! That means farmers market, craft fairs, all sorts of events! We’ll be at a handful of farmers markets this summer and also some one-off events. Read on to see what's happening this month...

The past week we started the Tuesday Market in Northampton which we’ll be attending every-other week (April 26th-on)

This weekend we will be Sampling and selling at the New England Veg Fest. That's Sunday, May 1st from 11-5pm. The event is at the DCU center in Worcester and it will be featuring 100% vegan food. There will be all sorts of food samplings, demos, speakers, as well as full-menu offerings from restaurants and bakeries.

Mothers day weekend The Great Barrington Farmers Market opens! Located in downtown Great Barrington and featuring 25+ vendors selling spring vegetables and fruits, seedlings, maple syrup, honey, breads, grains, and of course facto-fermented vegetables and tempeh! That same weekend we will also be in Hudson, May 7th and 8th, at the inaugural spring iteration of Basilica Farm & Flea full of independent makers, collectors and farmers! Thats a full weekend of good food and craft!

Saturday, May 21st we will be in NY state again at the Hudson Valley Hullabaloo The event is 10-6pm and will host a range of artisans from crafts, to collectors to food producers. Also, the Hullabaloo will be teaming up with Radio Woodstock 10.01 Craft Brew Boogaloo featuring 75 craft breweries pouring 150 kinds of brew, local farm-to-table food, live music, games and more! The craft Brew Boogaloo runs 1pm-6pm, and both events are separate, however, Boogaloo admission allows for entry into the Hullabaloo. Got it? Hope to see you there!

ThinkFOOD Conference at Bard College

Looking for something interesting to do this weekend? Bard College at Simon's Rock is putting on its 3rd annual ThinkFOOD Conference April 9th from 10:00am to 3:00pm in the Kellogg Music Center. This years theme is Berkshire Foodways, and will look inward at Berkshire County to define the "what, how and where" of food in our region

We are excited to be part of a panel titled "Grown/Made in the Berkshires" and we'll debate "what is Berkshire food?" Panelists include Alana Chernila (author of The Homemade Pantry, The Homemade Kitchen, and her blog, Eating from the Ground Up), Richard Bourdon (owner of Berkshire Mountain Bakery, and featured in Michael Pollan's documentary series, Cooked.) And yours truly, Maddie Elling (co-creator and maker at Hosta Hill)

The day will also include a locally sourced lunch, and poster presentation from Bard college students in the "Foodways" course and a second panel, "Feeding the Berkshires" which will answer the question: "What networks have been established to distribute food produced in the Berkshires" 

The event will surely inspire reflection upon the food scene of the Berkshires. Help us spread the word and we hope to see you there!

Valley Veg Fest!

This weekend we'll be at the Valley Veg Fest. Now in its 3rd year this event will feature passionate speakers, veg friendly food vendors, products and non-profits dedicated to healthy living, animal rights and environmental advocacy. 

We'll be there in good company with other fellow farmers and food producers like Kitchen Garden Farm, Artisan Beverage Coop, Red Fire Farm, and Fungi Ally to name a few. 

Whether your a vegan or carnivore there will be something interesting or tasty for everyone, come out and support your local makers!

The event is Saturday April 2nd, from 10am-4pm at the J.F.K. Middle School in Northampton, Ma.

In-store demos!

in the next few weeks we will be out and about demo-ing at stores in the Berkshires, Boston, and even over the boarder in New York state. Demos are a fun way for us to get out and meet our customers that we might not come across at markets. This gives them the chance to try a Hosta Hill product they might be curious about. See below for a schedule of dates for the coming weeks!

This upcoming Friday, March 25th we'll be in Boston at Cambridge Naturals from 12-3:30pm and then we'll head up the street to Pemberton Farms, 5-7pm. 

On March 31st we'll be at BOTH Guidos stores in the Berkshires for their Thank you thursday (TuT) event; tastings and deep discounts! We'll be in the great Barrington store from 10-2pm and then Pittsfield, 2-5pm. Our ferments will be on sale just that one day, so make sure to stop in and stock up!

April 16th we'll be headed over the boarder to the Chatham Real Food Coop for a tasting of all our ferments, 11-2pm.

Is there a store in your area that you'd like to see us do a tasting at? Let us know!


Seeding onions!

Last week we got to work in our unheated hoop house, seeding onions! This means planting onions seeds into trays of soil. From here they will grow and mature in mini onion plants and be ready to plant out by mid April. The seeds we planted are called Pontiac, they are a nice long term storage onion which we can store through the winter for extended season processing.

The other variety of onion we will be planting out is called Ailsa Craig. This is a popular fresh eating onion, that we'll use throughout the summer for our ferments. This year we are not going to be growing this variety by seed but instead buying in "sets" which we'll receive in April as mini onion plants ready to go into the ground. The idea with buying the sets is we may have larger summer onions, ealrier. Which will come in handy for our summer vegetable ferment processing!

onion sets, ready to go into the ground!

onion sets, ready to go into the ground!

Food Adventures

A few weeks ago I got invited to vist the 1st and 2nd graders at Muddy Brook Elementary in Great Barrington. They have a after school program called Food Adventures, spear-headed by the Nutrition Center. The plan was to talk about fermented foods, make sauerkraut and sample our sauerkraut. 

I talked a bit about Hosta Hill, who we are, what we make and how we make it. The kids we're inquisitive, commenting how they've seen our sauerkraut, they've eaten our kimchi and how its so smelly! After talking the kids got chopping (with the plastic lettuce knives of course). They all worked attentively, eager to process the cabbage in their own style. Once chopped we put everyones cabbage together into a big mixing bowl and they sprinkled it with salt. Then came the mixing, each kid got their hands in there mixing and mashing the cabbage until it was flimsy and wilted, just what we want!

While we let the cabbage sit to wilt a little longer we had a little sample of Hosta Hill Sauerkraut and Crimson Kraut. To my surprised most of the kids dove into their little bowls, gobbling it up. After a good cultured snack the kids took turns packing the sauerkraut into jars. The packed jars would stay in the classroom to ferment for a few weeks and then the kids would get to taste their communal sauerkraut. 

Working with them made me realize what a wonderful project this is for children! They can partake in the energizing act of chopping, salting and mixing the cabbage. Then they get to watch the fermenting contents transform right in front of their eyes! Bubbling away, with the colors of the vegetables melding right before you. its a safe, cheap and easy project. And also a fun way to eat your vegetables! 

Below is a kid friendly recipe for Sauerkraut.

  • 1 medium head of cabbage, red or green or both (it should be about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon of sea salt
  1. chop cabbage into strips
  2. Put in large bowl and sprinkle with the salt
  3. Mix the cabbage and salt, giving it a good massage
  4. Let the cabbage sit for 10-15 minutes. This allows more liquid to be drawn out from the cabbage
  5. Pack into wide mouth jars leaving about an inch for headspace.
  6. Cap tightly and store to ferment in a cool area in your kitchen.
  7. Keep an eye on your Kraut and taste after 1 week. If you want it more soured let it continue to ferment. If you like how it tastes pop it in the fridge. This will slow down the fermentation process.
  • Tips:
  • Use any mix of vegetables: carrots, radish, turnips! Endless possibilities.
  • Add spices or herbs. Don't over-do it! about 1-2 tsp/ 3 lb veg. Mix these in at the same time as the salt.
  • Keep an eye on the lid of your jar. You may see the lid bulging, thats perfectly normal and means the contents fermenting, sugars are being eaten, lactic-acid is forming in turn building pressure. I recommend you crack the lid open over the sink, since it might leak a little. After relieving some pressure, cap tightly and return to ferment. Do this again if needed.
  • See the previous blog post on ways for the whole family to enjoy fermented foods in every meal!!

Eat it on everything

Our Crimson Kraut, loud and proud on the salad bar at the Berkshire Co-op!

Our Crimson Kraut, loud and proud on the salad bar at the Berkshire Co-op!

We often get questions from customers wondering, how do I incorporate fermented foods into my daily meals?

We find the answer is simple. Try it on everything! We might be biased, but we think it really goes great with just about any meal.

Starting with breakfast, eat it with eggs in the morning or top onto savory oatmeal. For lunch, slip some GochuCurry Kraut into sandwiches, get creative; Kimchi and peanut butter sandwich? Yes really. Jazz up your salad with some Crimson Kraut. For dinner have it on the table as a condiment to any meal, meat, beans, grains, veggies, you name it! Want a fresh crunch? Go with Sauerkraut. Want a zing? Add some Kimchi. It's great for appetizers too, puree any variety of ferment for dipping or spreading, paired with cheese too! The possibilities are endless and we always love hearing what you put it on or in!

We've Got A New Website!

After weeks of work, we're pleased to announce the official launch of our shiny new Website.

You'll find us at the same URL, but now with a more comprehensive and functional design, including all new content and images of our products.

But, the best new element of all is our online store, which allows us to process direct orders for our products (sorry, no tempeh for now) for the first time.

So many of you have asked us how to get our products in other parts of the country beyond the Berkshires and now we'll be able to ship them right to your door!

It's such an exciting time at Hosta Hill with our recent Good Food Award win and our upcoming fifth anniversary later this year. Please check back often to catch up with all the latest news.

And, if you like our new site, please let us know in the comments.


We Won A 2016 Good Food Award

We’re proud to announce our Gochu Curry Kraut has been awarded a 2016 Good Food Award in the Pickles category.

Unfortunately we could not attend Friday night's amazing ceremony in San Francisco, featuring Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters and Nell Newman, but it's a great thrill to be recognized for the second consecutive year (our Kimchi won in the same category in 2015) by this wonderful organization.

We love that they say "we celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced" because it acknowledges the complete method behind the meal.

To have our handmade ferments, featuring sustainably grown ingredients from right here in the Berkshires, reach a national audience and be mentioned in the same sentence as so many of these other great companies is an incredible honor.

Congratulations to all our fellow winners, particularly those here in the Berkshires, and thank you to the Good Food Retailers Collaborative, sponsoring organizations and judges.

And, thank you as always to all the farms, stores, restaurants, wellness centers, farmers markets and customers who have supported us.

We'll be celebrating our fifth anniversary later this year and this is great way to kick-off 2016!

Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers' Market Returns January 16th

Berkshire Grown will host its next Holiday Farmers’ Market this Saturday at Monument Valley Middle School in Great Barrington from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This has been a great run of pop-up markets that began in November, giving local farmers, artisans and food producers the chance to interact with the Berkshires community for mutual benefit throughout the colder months.

We’re proud to be a part of it and hope you can join us for all the food, fun and festivities this event has to offer.

A Few Words About Winter Farmers Markets this season


You may have noticed we're not selling our products at as many winter markets this year as we have in the past.  

The main reason is we’ve made the decision to focus our energy on the wholesale side of our business in 2016, as we continue to provide locally produced fermented foods to more stores, restaurants, cafés, wellness centers and schools in Massachusetts and beyond.

We’re very grateful to all the market managers and customers who have supported us over the years, and we will still participate in as many local markets as we can, but the two of us can only be in so many places at once. As demand for our products has increased, so have our responsibilities and we’re doing our best to give each of them the attention they deserve.

The other reason is we're launching a new Web site this month that offers direct online sales for the first time. This allows our customers across the country to order their favorite Hosta Hill products in a totally new way. One that thankfully allows us to spend less time on the road and more time in the kitchen.

So, please keep an eye out for our products on new shelves and tables, especially in the Boston area. And, please don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email with additional suggestions. Requesting our products in your favorite store or restaurant helps buyers make informed decisions about what their customers want.

Wayland Winter Market Begins January 9th

We’re proud to be returning to the Wayland Winter Farmers Market, which will feature a revolving cast of over 100 diverse vendors during its 10-week run at Russell’s Garden Center through March 12th.  

Sign up for their newsletter and follow their Facebook page to find out which farmers, artists and local food producers will be participating each week.

This will be our only winter market of the season in Eastern Massachusetts and we’ll be there every other week, starting this Saturday, with all your favorite Hosta Hill products, including our krauts, Kimchi, Krautonics, Tempeh and our new lacto-fermented red jalapeño hot sauce.

If you want to mark your calendar, our weeks are January 9th, January 23rd, February 6th, February 20th and March 6th.

Hope to see you there!