Are all pierogies the same? It turns out there is a huge difference between the Pierogi made in Poland and what you can find here in the States. It is even more difficult to find healthy, home-style Polish Pierogi, especially on the West Coast! As most of you know who have made your own Pierogi at home, making these delicate Polish dumplings is an incredible amount of work. But, if you love homestyle Pierogi like we do, we felt the extra labor was worth it.
However, just making tasty Pierogi was not enough for us. We wanted to satisfy our taste buds, and nourish our bodies too! This became a daunting task. For good taste, we decided to use only the freshest, organic ingredients available, preferably local to maintain the flavor and nutrition of each vegetable. We also were adamant about adding no artificial flavorings, no MSG, no additives, no preservatives, no GMO ingredients, no dairy with growth hormones, no meat with antibiotics or hormones, and all the other things that go along with many packaged foods today.
What we wanted to sell is an authentic pierogi that tastes and nourishes like home cooking. To accomplish this, it took a year of research to find the local, organic farmers we could trust and then to test the recipe with each final ingredient.
Today, flour has become a big topic. We have had requests to offer a gluten-free pierogi. So far, we have not found a gluten free pierogi flour that has the same nutrient value and flavor as the flour we use. However, for those concerned, we have some good news. Not all wheat flour is the same.
We Use Old World Grain -- First off, we do not use the typical highly-modified flour found in most breads and pastas that has caused some concern. The flour we use for all pierogi flavors are 100% organic and from the Old World wheat grains. It is the kind that was enjoyed hundreds of years ago, not what you find today. For example, you will notice that most pastas on the market uses Semolina flour. Semolina comes from durum wheat, which has the highest protein content of any flour and produces more gluten. We do not use the high gluten, highly modified Semolina flour in our pierogi, but an organic blend of Old World flours from a local, organic mill.
We Use Organic Grain -- Using organic flour turns out to be very important for several reasons. First, you are not ingesting the large amounts of insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides. Secondly, you are not eating a product that has been bleached and bromated--another reason to ONLY eat organic flour. And despite the ongoing debate, new research confirms that organic foods have higher amounts of nutrients than conventional.
We Avoid Bromated Flour-- Bromated flour is flour which has been enriched with potassium bromate, a maturing agent which promotes gluten development in dough. Many commercial bakers use this type of flour because it makes stronger, more elastic dough and is easier to work with in large production facilities. However, potassium bromate is classified as a potential carcinogen, meaning that it may be harmful when consumed. In many countries such as the European Union, Canada, and Brazil, bromated flour has actually been banned out of concerns about health risks. But it is still legal in the United States. We steer clear of this for our customers. Remember, certified organic flour does not permit the use of potassium bromate. Just Buy Organic!!!!
We Avoid Bleached Flour -- The other thing we avoid is "bleached" flour. Many baked goods, breads, and pastas on the market are made with flour doused with a chlorine gas bath (chlorine oxide). This serves as a whitener, as well as an “aging” agent. Flour used to be aged with time, improving the baking quality. Now, it is treated with chlorine to instantly produce similar qualities in the flour (with a disturbing lack of concern about adding chemicals to your food). This is nasty stuff. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines chlorine gas as a flour-bleaching, aging and oxidizing agent that is a powerful irritant, dangerous to inhale, and lethal. Certified organic flour does not permit the use of chlorine oxide. Just Buy Organic!
When you look at all these issues with flour, it is no wonder people are having health issues with most flour and breads on the market. But, if you know the source of your flour products and what to avoid, you can still enjoy wheat flour's incredible taste and nutrients. It happens to be packed with B vitamins, iron, zinc, trace minerals, and fiber!
There are no short-cuts in how we make our pierogi. We start with fresh, local, and organic vegetables and cold-pressed organic oils. We slowly caramelize our onion for that sweet, savory flavor in every batch of pierogi, roast our bell peppers and garlic, and slowly sauté all our pierogi stuffings to give each pierogi flavor their distinct, complex fillings. That is why you will notice that one flavor tastes completely different than another flavor of pierogi. They are all made separately with their own distinct cooking methods. Because of the flour we use (explained above), even the way we make our pierogi is a much slower process due to the delicate nature of our dough. Without all the high gluten proteins, dough conditioners and strengtheners, it is a much slower, manual process. We also strive for a thin dough with lots of stuffing, which takes more time and skill. Luckily for us, Tomek has his Masters in Engineering and has truly mastered the science behind the perfect pierogi. We have even had customers try to duplicate our recipes and have been dumbfounded how it never turns out as good as ours. It is Tomek's incredible Polish ingenuity!
Once the pierogi are made, we quickly flash freeze them to preserve nutrients and flavor. Most already know that frozen fruits and vegetables have more nutrition than fresh because they are picked at their peak ripeness and flash-frozen. Research now shows that even frozen steak has more iron than fresh! But what about frozen pasta? Turns out this is the case here too, as long as you buy raw, flash-frozen pasta like our pierogi (not precooked). We make each dumpling fresh and immediately flash-freeze them so when you boil them at home, it is like you just made it fresh. This point is significant because it is a much more expensive manufacturing process, and explains why most frozen pasta is precooked, so check your labels.
The other reason we flash-freeze our pierogi is that it naturally preserves the food so we do not have to add nasty preservatives. Yes, it is true that some frozen foods STILL have preservatives, which we could not figure out at first. Later we found that some manufactures do it just out of habit, others because the ingredients they use already had them, or lastly, because at some point in the shipping and storing process, the product is allowed to thaw and freeze again. None of these reasons should make you want to eat that product, so just stay away from frozen food that contains preservatives--there is no excuse to add them if it is a product made with fresh ingredients and frozen....and stays frozen till it lands on your stovetop.
Shopping Tip: If you still insist on buying "fresh" deli pasta, make sure to check for mold. We found mold in several brands of deli pasta even though the package wasn't expired. The problem is that "fresh deli" pasta usually has to withstand a week in shipping and 3-4 weeks on the deli shelf...(and they call that fresh?!?!). So, just buy frozen and invest in an extra freezer if you need more space. And no, buying fresh and freezing at home doesn't count either. Once the product has been allowed to sit for days or weeks on the shelf, the heat and light have already ruined the nutrients in the food. Good frozen food should be made with fresh ingredients, flash-frozen, and kept at that state.
To summarize this whole story about how we make our authentic Polish pierogi, we want to sell food that we would enjoy eating ourselves, and we are picky eaters! After all our hard work and research, we hope you enjoy our accomplishment: healthy, tasty, convenient, and affordable Pierogi that can be enjoyed by the entire family!
Turns out, we were not the only ones who noticed. Gourmet News Magazine, one of the most respected magazines in the gourmet food industry, selected our pierogi as Editor's Pick Award for 2014! Products are judged on flavor, originality, quality, value, and much more. We were selected out of over 900 qualifying products too.
Organic vegetables, flours, and ancient grains
Organic, fresh potatoes
More stuffing than dough for every flavor
Organic and expeller-pressed oils only
Only rBST-Free Cheese, Certified Kosher
No added sugar
No trans fats
All our flour is organic, unbleached, and is from non-GMO wheat
From locally sourced, organic ingredients, slow food processing, and flash freezing and preserving methods, every step is carefully considered when making our pierogi. Sure, it is extra work, but we felt our customers, you, would appreciate the nutrient value and taste of home cooked pierogi.
If you have any questions about our pierogi, please do not hesitate to contact us!