Turqle's producers are not all the same. Some are big and ultra sophisticated (think lots of stainless steel and white coats), and some are smaller and more artisinal. They are all - without exception - amazing people and we've dealt with most of them, for many years...
" We choose producers for the quality of their products and their commitment to fair trade. Then we check and re-check, and then we are checked by internationally accredited auditors. "
WFTO guarantees that we (Turqle) are a Fair Trade Enterprise. Shortly, it means we have proved compliance to the 10 principles of Fair Trade, and we have a comprehensive Internal Fair Trade Monitoring System in place. Apart from submitting regular self assessment reports, we are audited regularly.
Turqle producers are required to have (and maintain) all the necessary food safety certifications required by the various export markets. Turqle regularly checks food safety compliance.
Some of our fair trade consumers have the idea that everything 'fair trade' comes from producer groups in quaint rural settings. Fair Traders love the romance of craft products that come from far away places, but at the same time, they want their food to come from factories with first world food safety, and these food safety systems come with a lot of unromantic stainless steel!
"Food is a trade of trust - people trust us enough to eat our products..."
We make sure our products are the best they can be - up to (and often beyond), the standards that apply at manufacturers in the first world. This, we have to get right every, single, time. Afterall, we're asking people to eat what we make - and come back for more!
in Wellington make the Cape Treasures mustards. They have been making semi-grain table mustards since the early 1990's, and these mustards have fans all over Europe - even in Germany!
There is an artisinal charm to the process - a lot of it is done by hand and there's a huge component of skill and judgement to getting it just right.
The mustard seed may be imported from Canada (that is where all the BEST mustard seeds come from), but these mustards have an honest, Cape autheticity about them. You know by the taste that its the energy of the Nantekara people who make it amazing!
Behind the purple hedge, in the shadow of the voor-Groenberg, is Nantekara's little factory in the Wellington Vineyards... and they dont just do mustards, they also make the most delicious 'no-sugar', all fruit chutneys, and they bottle the smoked olive oil.
(on the banks of the Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp) smokes the Cape Treasures Olive oil.
Shortly after Aphro Shack started making our smoked olive oil, it became clear that while they could keep up with smoking the oil, bottling it and shipping it out was beyond the capacity of their little smoke-house. Just for a start, the road leading down to the smokehouse is so steep and so narrow, no large trucks can make it down (or up) the hill (without running the risk of landing up in the dam!).
So - these days the folks at Aphro Shack do what they do best - smoke the oil. Cold smoking is in the realms of the mystic culinary arts - it all happens by 'feel' and instinct (cold smoking done 'by the book' is a guarantee that it will all go wrong). The oil (we only buy Green Leaf's best!), is 'carried' in, in 25liter drums - and the bottling and labeling and palletising and shipping happens from Nantekara where there is space to pack pallets and load shipping containers...
near Malmesbury in the Swartland, make the Cape Treasures Relishes, the Smoked Seasoning, the Ukuva Hot Drops and Ukuva's Harissa sauce.
There is a very special energy in products that are made by the people who grew the ingredients and constructed the recipes. The peppers in Smoked Seasoning are grown, dried and smoked within meters of where it is eventually packed. The same for the relishes. Perhaps it is the rich soil of the Swartland - perhaps its the heat and the sunshine and the clean air... the chillies and peppers grow redder, tastier and bigger than anywhere else... so do the aubergines and tomatoes and basil.
The Fynbos people take special pride in making products that are packed with the 'good stuff' - they do not add fillers or preservatives or colourants - every product is pure vegetable goodness through and through.
KHOISAN NATURAL SALT
which is near Veldrift on the Cape West Coast (about 140km from Cape Town) make the salt that is used in all the Ukuva Herb and Spice grinders, the fine salt shakers in the Cape Treasures range, The Savoury (their 'hand harvest' party-piece!), and the exquisitely rare, limited editions of Fleur de Sel flakes.
This salt is made by the sun and wind, from mineral rich brine out of an ancient aquifer that was formed long before pollution began...
At the salt pans, the area is vast - the horizons stretch into eternity - and mostly its just the sea-air, the birds that pass through on their migration and the sky and the salt pans.
The air is so clean here, people feel revitalised just breathing - and on windless days, the silence is so complete, one can hear the salt crackle as the crystals form and settle. There is nothing 'instant' here - the salt only forms when the conditions are right... Some days it happens overnight and sometimes it can take a long, long time.
After harvesting, the process is remarkably simple: washing with clean sea-water (yes, you can wash salt!), cleaning, sieving (to sort the large from the small and the fine grains), picking by hand (to remove any bits of stone and shell that might have passed the sieves) and packing.
There are no harsh mechanical processes : high heat drying ovens, crushing and grinding that destroys the natural sea minerals - each crystal stays just as it was formed: pure, perfect and complete.
CECIL VINEGAR WORKS
just outside Somerset West, make the Cape Treasures Fruit Infused Balsamic Vinegars.
Developing the first Fruit Infused Balsamic Vinegar Reductions was an act of pure love for food and good taste. The energy Adrienne put into the very first bottles, is still there today. It is in the careful selection of the ingredients and in the process of infusing and reducing and, they have mastered the art of getting it just right, every time.
There is a timelessness - a truth beyond the food fads - of the role of vinegar in good food and classic cooking. A really good vinegar is often one of the 'secret' ingredients great chefs use to balance a flavour, create an accent or layer the taste experience in a dish.
CAPE HERB & SPICE
are in the Westlake area of Cape Town. They make the blends of all the Ukuva Herb & Spice Grinders, all the Cape Treasures Seasoning Solutions and most of the Cape Treasures flavoured salt - no wonder they needed such a large factory!
Right from the very beginning, Cape Herb and Spice was driven by the love of spice, a fascination with the alchemy that happens between food and spice to create sublime flavours: a true and lasting passion for all things spice... and that has not changed.
Beyond the immediate, they keep exploring, keep adding to their knowledge, keep working their master craft into their products - and every now and then create a blend (or two or three) that is truly inspired.
in Stikland make the Ukuva Sauces - the legendary hot sauces: Fire Sauce, Mamba Sauce, Gold Sauce and Peri Peri. In recent years, the family had grown, to include some 'not-hot', party sauces - the kind of flavours loved by kids of all ages in easy to pour bottles.
In the beginning (about 20 years ago) the Ukuva sauces were made in vast cookers on the back porch of Nigel's cottage on Rose Street. This was fine in Summer, but when the Winter rains came, they moved to a little factory in Schiebe Street, and when they outgrew that, they moved to Roodehek Street. When the facility at Roodehek - which still had a measure of rustic charm - became too small, the 'step-next' was a 'proper' factory that had food safety certification, and production moved to Afoodable in Montague Gardens and three years later, St Louis in Stikland became the official makers of Ukuva Sauces.
From a production point of view, the Ukuva sauces are not easy - most of them require loads of real, fresh ingredients : bunches of carrots, real, fresh sweet potato and fresh coriander (that arrive from the market complete with sandy roots!), as well as real onions and garlic and enormous crates of whole, fresh chillies... so the Ukuva Sauces were fortunate indeed that the dedicated team at St Louis were willing to get in there, and go the extra mile to make it happen - and all for the love of great sauces!
is Turqle's in-house production where almost all the special projects are designed, planned and packed.
Initially, we only packed very small, custom products, but as time went on and word got out, the projects got bigger and more complex.
In 2020/21 we created the biggest project to date - 1000 units of a monster-box of 24 mini-grinders in an Advent pack - complete with QR codes to custom recipes and a handmade 'kitchen angel' that came with a greeting card. Given that most of the hard work happened under CoViD restrictions, the fact that it happened at all, is a minor miracle.
Special projects are most often gift packs that can range from tiny runs of 20 units, to 1000 units or more. For corporate gifting it is possible to customise back labels or include a custom card or message.
There is almost always a special project on the table - whether it is packing the tiny runs of super-special Fleur de Sel for a specialist retailer or tackling the epic projects.
Beyond great taste...
At the heart of every product, is Turqle's commitment to transparency, sustainability and accountability; the process of fair trade and fair trading and of supporting and growing producers in South Africa.
At its most basic, our job is about creating and maintaining fair trading chains - from the farm to the fork: healthy fair trading businesses that will create resilient industries, strong communities and wholesome families.
These things cannot be bought in a kit and 'installed'. They have to be built - carefully, mindfully, with much cooperation, energy and commitment.