What started as a cute hand-rolled healthy treat business has quickly become one potentially dependent on machines that I could not have possibly anticipated because you will recall that I have zero experience in food preparation or retail food shelf life. A good idea might feel like the most important bit but it really just opens up a can that is full of the other 90 per cent that makes a product actually viable.
Here is my other 90%:
Nutritionals – Price tag $300 per SKU
Less machine but definitely an unexpected expense and something I could not do myself so it might as well be generated by a machine. In this case, generated by George Brown. These are the labels usually on the reverse of packages to explain the contents of whatever is in said package. They explain portion and calories, vitamin content and fats, etc, etc. They are a requirement of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency but don’t tell that to every retailer at a farmer’s market and some not so small retailers (cough…cough Summerhill Market). Let’s say it is all a little “loosey goosey” but I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right so invested in the nutritionals for each flavor on offer from the get go.
Shelf Life – Price tag $3000 per SKU
George Brown also has a super chamber that can simulate foods’ exposure to moisture, sunlight and other elements to determine shelf life. So cool. But so expensive. Do you want to know how I figured out shelf life? I left the balls on the counter in a sealed and then unsealed bag. I tasted a ball everyday. I, too, can be a super chamber.
Nitrogen What? – Price tag $1499.00
While I didn’t think I needed a vacuum sealer that could potentially squish my balls (insert snicker here), I have learned I actually do need a nitrogen flush that can only happen after some moderate vacuuming. Nitrogen flushing removes the oxygen from a package and replaces it with a combo of nitrogen and oxygen. This gas flush maintains freshness in a package until it is opened and can continue to an increased shelf life that is apparently king with retailers. I get it. Less perishable = less waste.
Food Processor - $1235.00
My sweet girl Bessy, a 3.5 quart Cuisinart food processor, has been with me since the beginning of time and has created every single recipe for SisBoomBah. It needs desperately to be replaced. I can only make a single batch at a time – around 75 balls – which seems to suit for now but as I grow, she’s a speed bump. Phase two for food processing is coming very quickly.