A couple of years ago I wrote about Tasman Bay Fruit Co. and their frozen Juicies products that are the perfect summer refreshment; at the time I was impressed by their innovative use of apples and berry fruits to make light-weight, energy-dense baked fruit bars alongside their Juicies and Moosies products. They were being consumed by military and emergency services as well as being for sale to the public as a healthy baked fruit bar.
However, it’s the use of a by-product that has led me back to their factory in Brightwater, the use of apple pulp as a base for tomato sauce.
Last week when I visited the factory I caught up with the Managing Director, Marina Hirst Tristram, who told me “We have this interesting phenomenon happening at the moment. We make a sauce called Speedway Sauce, a tomato chutney style sauce that has suddenly become really popular.”
Why Speedway Sauce? “Because it’s used to dip hotdogs into at the Speedway across New Zealand, the sauce is so thick it sticks to the hotdogs they sell, and Speedway Sauce reflects who our customers are – just without the dirt!
“We’ve been making it a long time but recently it’s developed this cult-like following. We have only really sold to the public through our factory shop, but we have started selling online and at a couple of local retailers, it has just taken off in popularity.”
Tasman Bay Fruit Co. have been making it for a long time, “over twenty years in fact when we bought a little sauce business, but we’ve only been selling it to a food-vendor customer base through wholesalers such as Trents and Bidfood who supply places like fish and chip takeaway shops because it’s a bulk product.”
Marina told me that nothing goes to waste, the pulp left over from Juicies production goes to feed animals, “but it’s always great to be able to find a use for it that adds value. When we realised how good the apple pomace (solids that remain after pressing juice from fruit) was to use as a base for sauces and chutneys we decided to manufacture a cooked apple pomace base and see if it was of interest to other sauce and chutney producers. We now export it to a multinational company and they use it in their own sauces and chutneys as a base. Some of it ends up in a whole range of products found on supermarket shelves in New Zealand.”
Apples are a great flavour carrier, the pomace has no real flavour after the sweet juice has been squeezed out and that means when it’s used as a sauce base the other fruit, spice and seasoning flavours stand out, “it also means the sauce has a thick texture without having to use additives. We would love to see others use it as a base for all sorts of products. Because we are making more Juicies we have more by-product so we are keen to look at any opportunity to use the pomace, innovation is great.”
Back to the actual Speedway Sauce, “it isn’t meant to be high-end, its good value bulk sauce that everyone seems to love.”
It’s sold in five litre containers and is used by customers like Sturgeon Amusements and businesses selling chips and hot dogs at places like speedway as well as fish and chip shops across New Zealand. “These food vendors love Speedway Sauce because it’s really thick and will stick to the hotdogs without dripping off. It’s also great on chips for the same reason, you don’t get sauce running down your hand and dripping on your T shirt.”
According to Marina it’s also well priced, just $25 delivered for five litres from their online store. She said some vendors flash it up by adding their own ingredients, like a bit more spice, but I think it has a huge amount of flavour without any extras.
It’s a cheap and cheerful product people seem to have discovered almost by accident. “We’ve never advertised it, just selling it to locals at the factory shop once a month and word of mouth. We recently stocked it at the Mad Butcher and it has absolutely gone ‘mad’, they sold a pallet (140+ bottles) of it in a couple of weeks.
“We don’t intend to sell it in smaller bottles for two reasons; firstly, we aren’t geared up with a bottling line and secondly, bulk is the sweet spot for us. It’s cheap and lasts forever, keep it in the fridge or decant it into smaller containers for easier use.”
This simple but very tasty tomato sauce is exceptional value for money and can be used in many ways, a couple of dollops of it into dishes helps thicken the sauce (casseroles etc), meat pies love it, It’s perfect as a sauce for burgers from the barbecue, use it as part of a basting sauce for slow cooking on the barbecue, fish and chips at home and, not that it needs it, but you can add herbs and spices of your own to suit any dish you are making that needs a thick tomato-based sauce.
You can buy your very own five litre container of Speedway Sauce at the Mad Butcher in Stoke, Benge & Co or The General Grocery Store in St Vincent Street, Raeward Fresh Wholesale or online direct from Tasman Bay Fruit Co. (www.tasmanbay.nz) just in time for summer BBQ season.