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Garon Foods offers fresh flavors for on-trend, custom cheese applications

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ingredient Innovation, CMN’s new segment exploring recent innovations and trends in the dairy ingredients sector. For this segment, we will profile a leader in the ingredients industry as well as share updates on mergers and acquisitions and new offerings for cheese and dairy in ingredients — where flavor begins.

By Alyssa Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Garon Foods

FRESH INGREDIENTS — Garon’s NAL-Mechanical Infusion Preservation Method is used to process hundreds of herbaceous plants specifically designed to enhance the fresh like flavors for dairy and other industries for products such as cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, whey, milk drinks and more. Pictured above is a side-by-side comparison of Garon’s superior quality, color and cuts (left) compared to its competitor, the company says.
Photo courtesy of Garon Foods
SAFETY AND QUALITY — Sharon and Gary Griesbach are owners of Garon Foods, an international company based in Herrin, Illinois, that produces a wide variety of fresh products for use in cheese and other dairy products. The company is Safe Quality Food certified, and Garon’s customer-driven perspective prioritizes integrity with superior quality and exceptional service, which is known as the Garon Foods’ IQs.

HERRIN, Ill. — As consumers continue to explore new cheese flavors and seek to awaken their palates with heat and spice, Garon Foods Inc. is well-positioned to meet these demands with its variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and other ingredients for cheese.

Garon Foods, first known as the Freedom Farm, is the brainchild of Gary and Sharon Griesbach, who were married in 1978 and settled into a small one-bedroom home in Freedom, Wisconsin, to begin farming. The Griesbachs’ Freedom Farm included many acres of organic products and cash crops including assorted vegetables for human consumption.

For a time, the Griesbachs also utilized their own dairy herd to make milk, cheese, ice cream and butter. Gary Griesbach has a dairy background as well, having worked for cheese companies including Twelve Corners Cheese Factory and Foremost Farms.

As the years passed, the Griesbachs had seven children and began experimenting with producing, processing and selling jalapeno peppers.

The Griesbachs’ Freedom Farm pepper business started small; in fact, their first jalapeno pepper hybrids were grown in their garden, and the first office was in the corner of the family’s living room.

The Griesbachs eventually sold their farm and today, Garon Foods Inc. — a combination of Gary and Sharon’s names — is an international company based in Herrin, Illinois, that produces a wide variety of fresh products for use in cheese and other dairy products.

Garon developed a special food processing procedure using its NAL-Mechanical Infusion Preservation Method.

Garon’s Process has been used to process more than a billion pounds of fresh-like herbaceous plants specifically designed for dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, whey and milk drinks.

Garon’s Process makes the food ingredients commercially sterile so they can be safely added to post-pasteurized natural cheese, and it is composed of 100% natural ingredients. Garon’s processes and facility are Global Food Safety Initiative certified by the Safe Quality Food Institute.

Garon’s Process includes seven steps the Griesbachs identified to resolve fundamental objectives while processing the peppers, which include:

1. Enabling peppers to be added to natural cheese without the natural cheese crumbling after aging;
2. Allowing the commercially sterile pepper to be added to post pasteurization natural cheese;
3. Using only natural ingredients in the process;
4. Allowing the peppers to be presented in a colorful visible particulate identity;
5. Processing peppers so that particulate identity is uniform;
6. Enabling the pepper flavor to migrate throughout the cheese; and
7. Processing peppers safely in an environmentally-friendly manner with superior food safety and quality.

By using Garon’s Process on herbaceous plants, the company is able to stimulate the natural flavor of each fruit and vegetable to migrate through food products, creating a full-bodied, flavor-filled profile.

“Garon’s Process enables consumers to taste the cheese, then the pepper, followed by the heat of the pepper. The goal is to entice consumers to enjoy another piece of cheese and to create a market for cheese by reaching people who are not eating conventional cheese,” Gary Griesbach says.

“Garon works with dairy manufacturers and other industries to develop the taste profiles people crave — thereby the customers’ requests, needs, wants and profits are achieved,” he adds. “Garon performs R&D and does taste testing to determine what the public will like the best. Our R&D department works with the customer to develop taste-tantalizing, sense-stimulating, palate-pleasing, bold desired edibles for various demographic delineations.”

In addition, Garon Foods aims to create a superior product that will continually grow and create value for the U.S. agriculture community in local rural areas and across the country, Griesbach says, noting Garon Foods works one-on-one with customers to make their product ideas come to life.

While Garon makes many products, its flagship continues to be its ever-popular jalapeno peppers. The company also offers specialty peppers including Bell, Bella-fina, Bonney, Fresno, Carolina reaper, Caribbean, Cayenne, Chipotle, Ghost, Habanero, Hungarian wax, Pimento, Poblano, Scotch bonnet, Shishito and Smoked peppers, just to name a few.

“Specialty cheeses flourish with Garon’s flavors such as artichokes, dill, horseradish, peppercorn and a variety of other fruit and vegetable combinations ranging from sweet to spicy and mild to wild, including current trends of smoky flavored foods, as well as the fermented ingredient niche,” Sharon Griesbach says. “Garon also offers a line of fruits and spices that can be added to oils to be used for cheese rubs along with many innovative offerings.”

She notes Garon’s Process is ideal for natural cheeses. In addition, the company works with processed cheese customers and incorporates its offerings into dips and spreads. It also works with frozen food, dressing, candy and hot sauce customers as well.

Gary Griesbach adds the company’s products are ideal for consumers who increasingly are looking for clean label and natural food products.

“Many people come to Garon to supply them with new custom blends and products because Garon provides the research assistance to their customers,” he says. “Garon is excited to be on the cutting edge of innovation and to provide new and requested flavors to the cheese industry.”

Stringent food safety standards are at the forefront of Garon’s operations, Sharon Griesbach notes. In fact, Garon’s Process is particularly safe, which allows for peppers and other ingredients to easily be added to ready-to-eat natural cheese and other items.

The company operates on four main principles called Garon Foods’ IQs;

1. Intelligence-Quantifiable-Safety;
2. Integrity-Quality-Service;
3. Innovation-Quantity-Supply; and
4. International-Quantum-Security;

“The Griesbachs believe that it is of paramount importance to provide the safest and highest-quality products, with the customers’ individualized, customized needs and wants in clear focus,” Gary Griesbach says.

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