Vermont Smoke and Cure: Old Traditions Die Hard
“Old traditions die hard.” While not the motto of Vermont Smoke and Cure in South Barre, Vermont, one might guess that this mantra pulses through the veins of all its employees.
Vermont Smoke and Cure crafts some of the finest summer sausage, bacon, ham and other smoked meats in the world and credits its unique flavor to “using pure ingredients and old -fashioned ways.”
These old-fashioned ways date back to French-Canadian Roland LeFebvre who, in 1962, started the smokehouse as â€œRolandâ€™sâ€ just one short mile from the current South Barre location. There were two keys to LeFebrvre’s method. One, he brined his bacon and ham with the finest, pure Vermont maple syrup. Two, he smoked these meats using locally available natural smoke fuels, corn cobs and maple wood.
Fast forward to 1999. The smokehouse was up for sale, and the owners of The Farmers Diner (Vermont Smoke and Cure’s sister company), heard opportunity knocking. For a diner that prides itself on buying foods from local farmers and food processors, having direct access to a local smokehouse for bacon, ham and sausages was the clear choice.
The current Vermont Smoke and Cure label came to life in 2006, and using LeFebvre’s same recipes and methods, continues to deliver tried and true Vermont craftsmanship.
Beyond their products, which hopefully you can find in a store near you, Vermont Smoke and Cure also provides processing services for local farms.
Dozens of farmers bring hams and bacons from their own hogs to be smoked at Vermont Smoke and Cure and, by making their USDA inspected processing and professional packaging available to farmers, the variety of products coming from these farms are increasing thus increasing sales for the farms.
At this point, over 600 Vermont farmers bring their meat to Vermont Smoke and Cure, but it is not just the big farms doing it. Whether a large or small farm, Vermont Smoke and Cure offers the same “damn fine” smoking to all.
Â Vermont Smoke and Cure’s Chris Bailey speaks of their processing and purchasing operations with great pride.
“Iâ€™m most proud of the way we have been able to grow the amount of smoking we do for local farmers and the amount of purchasing weâ€™re able to do from local farmers each year,” says Bailey. Â “So far our pork buying has played a key role in creating a pork operation that now is the keystone of one farmerâ€™s operation, and weâ€™re an important customer for our maple syrup supplier. Â It is possibly even more satisfying, though, to see our processing customer farmersâ€™ bacons, hams and sausages in stores or at farmers markets and know that Vermont Smoke and Cure helped make that possible for them.”
Vermont Smoke and Cure is clearly committed to local ingredients whenever possible, but Bailey also commented on the challenges that “all local” can pose to a business of their size.
“Weâ€™re committed [to local], but with their limited availability and high cost, versus the high fixed costs of our processing facility, we use them where we can get them but canâ€™t run the business solely on them. Â They are under a separate label that currently isnâ€™t in the Boston area market. Â Weâ€™d love if consumers asked for them from their local natural foods stores and specialty stores. Â The locally grown meat is $1 to $1.30 per lb higher than the natural, certified humane from Quebec (note: South Barre is less than 2 hours from the Canadian border) and we just pass that straight through â€“ we donâ€™t make any extra on it. Â By the time it reaches your store shelves, though, the difference is $2.00 per lb or more. Â We hope that many consumers will make this choice for their local farms.”
The Boston Local Food Festival is excited to have Vermont Smoke and Cure on board again this year, and you should be, too.
Â Baliey reports, “Weâ€™re going to be back with the bacon slab sandwich and with our sausages, peppers and onions. Â Iâ€™m already excited for the new sausages on the drawing board that weâ€™ll bring next year, though.”
Come see the Vermont Smoke and Cure crew at the Boston Local Food Festival, look out for them at your local markets, or if you just can’t wait, head to their website where you can order direct!Â http://www.vtsmokeandcure.com
This post was written by featured festival blogger Jon Ross-Wiley ofÂ Local In Season.