On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Gatherer’s Granola facilities. If that brand name sounds familiar to you, it’s because you either probably saw them at the Schenectady Greenmarket, ShopRite or Price Chopper. Gatherer’s Granola has made quite the name for themselves since 2010. They began their Capital Region take-over with Chipmunk’s Choice (Peanut Butter, Almonds and Maple Syrup) and introducing it at the Delmar Farmer’s Market. Later that year, they developed Squirrel Bait (Pecan, Maple Syrup and Toasted Coconut) as well as the logo you all know and love today. In early 2012, they moved into their Schenectady location and the rest is history. I’ve seen Gatherer’s Granola at the Schenectady Greenmarket on occasion but never had the opportunity to stop and talk to them until I was given the opportunity to check out where all the deliciousness is made.
I walked in and immediately was hit by the delicious smell. All of the spices mixed together raw and at their strongest was intoxicating. I first met Sandro, the president of the company and while we discussed Gatherer’s logistics Steve and Alex were making a batch of granola. I was amazed by an average of just how much granola they make in a week. I can’t even fathom what 600lbs looks like! First they described the process where all the ingredients go into a huge mixer, then put onto cookie sheets to then be placed in the oven. After, the product is bagged, sealed and you find it at your local farmer’s markets, ShopRites and Price Choppers! I also asked about what ideas they had in the future and though I wasn’t given too much detail, Sandro did tell me that a lot of great things are coming for Gatherer’s Granola in 2013 including expanding the location as well as developing 3 new flavors! I can’t wait.
My favorite part of course was tasting all the flavors and I’m so grateful that they gave me samples of each to take home. First, I jumped in with Squirrel Bait. I figured that if there was a flavor I wasn’t going to like, it was going to be this one because of the coconut but I was wrong. First I just took a whiff of it and the smell was intoxicating, sweet from the syrup but an undertone of the pecan. With the first bite, I found myself waiting for the taste or consistency of coconut but it wasn’t there. I ended up having to examine a handful to see it and it is there. It’s not as strong as I would have imagined but definitely necessary for this flavor to come together. You can taste it but it doesn’t take over, I would have to say that the stand-out flavor would be the pecans. The sweet nutty flavor bound to the oat by maple syrup, won my taste buds over. (Ingredients: Organic rolled oats, pecans, organic shredded coconut, organic sugar, local organic maple syrup, organic canola oil and sea salt).
Next, I tried their most popular flavor, Chipmunk’s Choice. How else to start eating granola but to smell it and it’s pretty clear by smell that there is peanut butter. The pieces in this granola are smaller and more broken up than in Squirrel Bait so I decided to put this one in yogurt for breakfast and it was delicious. The overwhelming flavor in this flavor was the peanut butter which probably accounts for the highest amount of calories between the three. I love that they use local peanut butter in their product. This peanut butter is from Peanut Principle who you can also find at the Schenectady Greenmarket. I may try to make some sort of peanut butter cookie out of this granola, because of the small amount of chunks it seems the easiest to manipulate as an ingredient. I was very surprised to read that there was shredded coconut because I didn’t see it nor did I taste it. I learned on my tour that the purpose for the coconut is less about the flavor and more about the consistency of the oats. The coconut bonds to the oats in the mixing and hardens the oats in the cooking process. So far, though delicious, I think Squirrel Bait is my favorite. (Ingredients: Organic rolled oats, almonds, organic shredded coconut, organic sugar, local organic maple syrup, local organic peanut butter, organic canola oil and sea salt).
The third flavor was Fox’s Fancy. I kept this one for last because though I’ve tasted it before, it hadn’t been for a while. I love the spices and dried apples. This is the flavor they were making when I went to the factory and even in its most raw form it smells delicious. The initial aroma was so overwhelmingly delicious, I can’t use any more adjectives to describe just how great it smelled in there. If you eat the apples alone, they tend to be a little chewy but add it with a handful of the oats and spices and the texture is quite enjoyable. Because of the honey and apples, this is the most sweet out of their three current flavors. It too has more loose oats and with the sweetness would probably also make a great ingredient. This is the only sample I received that had a recipe idea on the back: Fox’s Fancy Salad with mixed greens, Fox’s Fancy, crushed walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette and chevre. If anyone has tried it, let me know. That sounds like something I may have to make for dinner some night this week. (Ingredients: organic rolled oats, local organic maple syrup, organic oat bran, organic sugar, organic canola oil, local wildflower honey, organic apples, organic brown rice, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, organic brown rice syrup and sea salt).
ALSO, today is your lucky day because I decided to share the wealth and give away a bag of Gatherer’s Granola Chipmunk’s Choice to one lucky winner. I’m not talking about a sample bag, I’m talking about one of those big bags that should at least last you a couple of days. Chipmunk’s Choice is their first and most popular flavor. All you have to do to win is tell me where their LOCAL Peanut Butter comes from. What’s the name of the brand of peanut butter they use? You can either post here, post on the 518 Bites and Sights Facebook page or email me at 518BitesNSights@gmail.com. You must include your email address so I can contact you or your entry will not be considered. Good luck! A winner will be chosen next week!