Super Sauerkraut from Awesome Specialty Foods in Hyde Park
A Dutchess County purveyor of natural probiotic goodies and other tasty foods
Not to get all science-y, but there’s been a lot of talk lately about the importance of a healthy gut, and how we should pay attention to the trillions of microscopic bugs working down there in the dark to keep our immune systems pumped up, our digestion running smoothly, and horrible diseases at bay. Probiotic foods, like sauerkraut and other naturally fermented vegetables, replenish those bugs. Most supermarket sauerkraut is pasteurized, which kills the beneficial bacteria. But Sauerkraut Made in a Barrel by Awesome Specialties, which I discovered in the Awesome Country store during a mad dash through the Poughkeepsie Galleria around Christmas, is cured with kosher salt and absolutely teeming with the good guys. It tastes terrific, too.
Paul and Loraine Murwin, the couple behind Awesome Specialties, started out selling rubs and seasoning blends with excited names like Yikes!, Wow!, and Gobs of Garlic! along with dry soups and chili mixes. The enterprise morphed into Awesome Specialties about three years ago, when Loraine was “missing the whole fresh-fruits-and-veg thing,” she says. “I always loved canning and making jams and jellies, like my mother and my grandmother.” Now, she says, the fastest-selling products are the jarred ones, and (back to probiotics here) many of those are pickled vegetables. If it grows, Loraine evidently pickles it, so you’ll find a selection of kirby cucumber pickles along with Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peppers, garlic scapes, okra, onions, cauliflower, beans, watermelon rind — even eggs.
Other goodies from the company include relishes, salsas, marinaras, barbecue sauces, dips, spreads, condiments (horseradish mustard sounds good), and, not least, Loraine’s prize-winning Apple Pie Without the Crust, which she suggests putting on pancakes or waffles, or mixing with yogurt. Choose live-culture yogurt, and we’re back to probiotics yet again.
Awesome’s Web site, awesomespecialty.com, is a riot of type styles, colors, caps and exclamation points, and if you’re not sick of the word “awesome” yet, this could tip you over the top. But if their chunky, fresh-tasting sauerkraut is anything to go by, Awesome’s foods are, in fact, pretty awesome.