Hello, I am so delighted to start off my business and start to introduce Peruvian ginger to the masses.
To begin, my business didn’t come about because of Covid or a lack of work. I previously worked as a Graphic Designer and had completed a contract while living in Westport, Co. Mayo in 2020. This is why I have a bright and fun branding that receives compliments for its cheeriness.
While searching for work, I explored the feasibility of creating a business based on making crystallized ginger with Peruvian ginger. In early March 2020, I attended a Foodpreneur event. The attendees had diverse backgrounds, including education and aspiring entrepreneurs. The talk was informative and presented by Declan Droney, who established Kinvara Smoked Salmon. He shared his business journey with all its ups and downs, offering valuable insights for the next steps.
As mentioned elsewhere on my website, I first made crystallized ginger in 2016 while living in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. The product I produced then differs significantly from what I create now. Initially, I sliced the pieces quite thinly, unlike the small chunks I make today. I had discovered a recipe from David Lebovitz, which I found after searching through multiple options. Now, I naturally soften the ginger pieces by boiling and freezing, which helps tenderize the fibers.
After the onset of Covid, I returned home and assessed the viability of the business. I participated in a course with UCD on Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. This experience improved my business mindset and taught me how to address non-food-related issues, as well as analyze problems more effectively. I gathered both quantitative and qualitative survey data, conducting face-to-face interviews about my product’s taste, texture, and packaging aspects.
What my crystallised ginger used to look like, thin slices.
Using quantitative methods derived from surveys sent to participants and qualitative research involving approaching customers to inquire about packaging, texture, and taste, I collected feedback. I also sent samples to participants and requested videos of them tasting my product. While I had some good laughs, it was truly enjoyable to witness their changing facial expressions – a priceless experience.
I received constructive feedback regarding the texture, suggesting a chewier consistency rather than sliced pieces. This guided me to develop a more consumer-friendly product through further testing.
At this stage, I still lacked experience in the legalities of running a food business and areas of microbiology. I researched remotely accessible courses that would span two years. I discovered the UCC course, formerly known as the Diploma in Specialty Food Production, now titled Specialty and Artisan Food Enterprises. Based on the content and modules, I found a program that allowed me to incorporate my own food product development or explore other business interests.
I was able to hear about other companies interesting food backgrounds, some had ideas, then there was Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), one guy had a coffee business, a woman wanted to start a milk vending business, so a real diverse range. I soaked up all the information from food chemistry, risk analysis, production plant management, processing technology, packaging and our own Irish food systems. Every area was fascinating and I made sure to line up the information for my own business and ask as many silly questions as possible.
ginger pieces dry au natural after being boiled in a sugar syrup. Will follow with tossing in some sugar.
The end of year assignment was a study of some food area and I had been think of ginger jellies. Of course with majority of jelly products you have gelatin, enzyme from animals stomach. I’m vegetarian and wanted to look into the other plan based thickeners like or xanthan gum or hydrocolloids which are gelling agents so the likes of agar agar or carrageenan. So I had lots of fun making these up and doing the testing and writing down the results and methods I used. It is something that I can use again further down my food business development.
Halfway through the course I looked at move out of Dublin and looking a where I wanted to base my self and my business. I had been to Kerry a few times before and looking at the food markets in the area I thought it would be a great base to start growing and developing my range.
As the course was coming to an end I was looking at where my next steps needed to be. I was looking at packaging and wanted a container which customers could see my product before purchasing. Then I realized all the ginger infused water whih was leftover needed a purpose, this is what I had been testing my thickeners and gelling agents on. Though I looked a making a gingery syrup for a plethora of uses from morning, afternoon and into the evening time.