Before Amy Hamberry and her husband, Joe Orr, designed their own custom dehydrators, they were using 20 home dehydrators to supply their kale chip business, NY Naturals—and still having trouble meeting demand. "We were running a business on toaster ovens," Hamberry says. But once they had their own, larger equipment up and running, a process that involved setting up backyard toolsheds with blowers and shelving in their Crown Heights factory, they were able to increase production exponentially. "It's pretty cool," she says, "I'm surprised it worked."
Before the kale goes into their dehydrators, it's washed, cut, and spun dry. They make all of the sauces with hand blenders and hand massage it into each kale leaf, an incredibly time-consuming process that Hamberry admits is "a little much," but which produces a superior product. The kale itself is locally sourced. Hamberry and Orr work with various farmers to get enough kale that meets their needs. "Restaurants want thin, thin kale," she explains. "We want it thick," since dehydrating it makes even the sturdiest leaves crisp and delicate.
The current flavor line-up -- cashew and red pepper-based vegan "cheese," spicy miso, Bombay ranch, and sea salt and vinegar—is about to get a sweet addition. Made with chocolate, coconut, and cinnamon, Hamberry says the sweet kale chip is "like a light macaroon" and should be available in mid-October.
For more information, visit nynaturals.com.
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.