Follow your food.
It’s so important that Verstegen’s policy on the quality of
their herbs and spices are honoured from the very top of the company, right
down to the picking and processing. The company ethos needs be practiced
through every stage of production. So we need to provide the highest quality
service from harvest, to packaging, to processing.
Nutmeg and mace are highly valued commodities for Verstegen.
It would be fair to say that we’ve been able to build our reputation, partly
down to the exceptional quality of these two spices. Both nutmeg and mace come
from the ‘Myristica’ genus of trees; an evergreen tree indigenous to Indonesia.
This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices.
Nutmeg trees are very time consuming when it comes to
growing them. It can take up to six or seven years before the tree starts
producing any fruit. And it isn’t until the tree is ten years old that it
really reaches its full growing ability. However, it’s worth the wait as the
tree can then go on producing a good level of fruit for the next forty years.
Before Verstegen begin trading with our farmers, we make
sure that they hold the same values and work ethic that we do, so that only
products that meet our own high standards get chosen for production.
We work very closely with lots of independent nutmeg
growers, so that we can engage with a larger section of the community, rather
than focus on one large plant that’s owned by one company. The fact that
Verstegen have been able to open a nutmeg company within the village they work
with stops the farmers needing to travel staggering distances just to reach the
nearest company to sell their crops. Verstegen also offer a good price for the
top quality nutmeg, as it is in our best interest to have the highest quality
at our disposal, as well as helping the farmers get a better wage.
This partnership also has a great effect on the future of
the farmer’s crops. As the Verstegen buyers are experts in the field of nutmeg
and mace, they are always on hand to offer advice to the farmers so that they
can always look to improve their crops, provide better nutmeg, and get a higher
price for them.
As the farms are run independently, farmers are have other
avenues of income. Another perk of working independently is that farmers are
able to have space to grown their own crops for personal use. So you’d
definitely see some clove trees, banana trees as well as a few coconut trees
alongside the nutmeg trees.
Nutmeg is usually sold in powdered form, but Verstegen also
offers the nutmegs whole, so that the high quality of the spice is clear to
see. Verstegen chooses to ‘chalk’ their nutmeg in a way that prevents the
nutmeg from germinating, or fermenting, increasing the shelf life of the spice,
whilst preserving the quality. This is because the ‘chalk’ prevents excess
water or oils getting into the nutmeg and affecting the flavour.
It’s this attention to detail that lets us produce herbs and
spices that reach a quality that others simply can’t reach. Don’t settle for
second best when it comes to your ingredients.