Passion for peppers
Family businesses team up to bring gourmet products to a plate near you
Pete Aiello's passion for peppers is as hot as they come. And that makes sense because he has grown up with them. For nearly 40 years, Pete's family has owned and operated Uesugi Farms, a multigenerational family farm in Gilroy that specializes in—what else but peppers!
Theirs is a fully integrated farm, meaning they grow, harvest and pack all of their peppers, shepherding the produce all the way from a barren field to a bountiful harvest, then from processing to the final step of packing. While many of Uesugi Farms' peppers are shipped directly to supermarkets, some of the cosmetically challenged crop takes a completely different journey to a plate near you by traveling to the Mezzetta food company in Solano County.
For more than 75 years, Mezzetta has brought delicious, healthy foods from the Mediterranean to our tables. Started in Italy and brought to the Bay Area in 1935, and now in its fourth generation, Mezzetta is known for offering gourmet options using the bounty of fresh produce in California. Products ranging from pasta sauces to sweet banana wax peppers and pickled vegetables run through here. And at this time of year, bell peppers keep the production plant running almost 24/7!
All of the bell peppers are grown on local farms, such as Pete's, and are roasted and packed within 24 hours of harvest. Through the years, Mezzetta has worked closely with family farms in Northern California to develop meaty bell peppers with a high natural sugar content, which is then highlighted when they are roasted—like only Mezzetta can do.
While it is a thorough process, it actually takes only about 15 minutes for peppers to pass through Mezzetta. That leaves the team plenty of time to come up with new recipes, tips and tricks in their test kitchens that are sure to keep us hungry for more!
What ends up in kitchens across America actually starts in the ground at farms like Pete Aiello's, where each pepper is hand selected and meticulously cared for by lifelong farmers who savor the opportunity.
For more information about Uesugi Farms, visit www.uesugifarms.com.
For more information about Mezzetta, visit www.mezzetta.com.
To read a California Bountiful magazine story about Uesugi Farms, visit www.californiabountiful.com.