Like it spicy? Farmer Nate’s Sauce Co. premiered its first line of locally harvested and processed hot sauces in December.
Nate Nunemaker is new to farming, but he jumped right in with his boots on. Before he began introducing himself to the public as Farmer Nate, Nunemaker worked as a photographer and videographer. These days, however, he’s busy prepping crops and working out new hot sauce recipes in anticipation of the next harvest. Although farming has been a personal goal his entire life, he describes himself as a city boy getting his hands dirty.
“With quarantine and COVID-19, my work as a freelance photographer slowed down. So [farming] was pushed a little more by COVID, but it’s been a strategy of mine to get into this industry for years,” Nunemaker says.
When asked why he specifically chose to market hot sauce, Nunemaker said it was a way to preserve the massive amounts of peppers and other vegetables he harvested in Covington.
“The first thought to come to mind was hot sauce ... I love hot sauce. I bought some cheap dropper bottles from Amazon and I gave them to my friends,” Nunemaker says. “I fell in love with the process and became obsessed with flavor profiles and textures.”
“There is something rewarding about creating something physical from scratch,” Nunemaker continues. “Since it started with a garden in Covington, the transition into commercial farming has actually been extremely easy for me because I didn’t know anything else before or have any expectations. So, now that I’m on a farm, I’m able to do things that cater towards Farmer Nate’s Sauce Co. and build around that.”
Over the past year, Nunemaker has become a farmhand for a friend/ mentor in Piner, Kentucky. In exchange, they’ve given him a plot of land to grow on, and he’s preparing that plot for the 2021 growing season. Just as a seed grows into a vegetable, Nunemaker’s interest in commercial farming bloomed as he saw the potential yields he could harvest from less than half an acre of growing space.
“Ten months ago, I was just excited my plants were growing. Since then I’ve put a lot of time into it and tested a plethora of different methods. Now I’m on the farm most days, or in the kitchen trying to perfect my sauce,” Nunemaker says. “I try to spend most of my free time reading or studying up on how I can make my sauce even better. One of the biggest changes is my taste buds have become very immune to capsaicin [the compound that gives chili peppers their kick]. I’m able to take big bites of 7-pot peppers and not feel too much.”
The 7-pot pepper is approximately 370-times more intense than a jalapeño on the Scoville Heat Unit scale and is so named because one small pepper is spicy enough to flavor seven pots of Trinidad stew. The pepper is used in the production of military-grade teargas for Trinidad and is a component in marine paint to deter barnacles.
While the 7-pot pepper is not yet an ingredient in any of Farmer Nate’s commercially available hot sauces, there’s a strong likelihood that peppers of that intensity will make an appearance.
“I believe that you can taste the effort I’ve put into these sauces,” Nunemaker says. “Every single pepper is hand-picked and you can trace back exactly to where that pepper was harvested from. We don’t use pesticides or herbicides. We like to keep it all natural here at Farmer Nate’s Sauce Co.”
Three varieties of hot sauce are available for purchase through the Farmer Nate website, and Nunemaker is working to have the bottles available in stores throughout the region soon.
Nunemaker shared all three hot sauces with CityBeat for our own taste test:
Kentucky Tang has an earthy aroma thanks to cumin and a prominent sweetness from cinnamon, which contrasts with the jalapeño and red cayenne that provide the thick sauce’s very mild spice. This would go naturally as a component in homemade Cincinnati chili or drizzled over poutine.
Curry Jalapeño is reminiscent of a really nice chutney that would pair wonderfully with a buttery aloo matar or goat masala. There’s a pleasant sweetness beneath the quick flash of heat this sauce provides, making it something you’ll continually go back for regardless of the sweat starting to bead at your brow. This is a universally appealing hot sauce and will likely be the first bottle of the trio to go empty in CityBeat’s fridge.
If you’re not a well-seasoned capsaicin devotee, you may want to have a glass of milk handy when you try Smokehouse Habanero. The bright orange color is so inviting and the aroma is innocently citric, but it’s a sauce made for sparse application in a large dish or for those who need a flaming kick in the mouth. It’s not overwhelming when used cautiously, but is not for someone with even the slightest aversion to spice. Still, there’s a complex array of flavor in Smokehouse Habanero, and it could very well become a favorite for lots of home cooks.
To learn about Farmer Nate’s line of hot sauces, visit farmernatessauce.com.