From Hot Peppers to Panama Hats, St. Augustine-Made Products Show Local Flavor

Food-related businesses are certainly on the menu here, from gourmet specialty and organic foods to a St. Augustine exclusive, the datil pepper.

On Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 11:46
St Augustine

Food-related businesses are certainly on the menu in St. Augustine, home to natural/organic and specialty/gourmet food company Tree of Life. The distributor’s products include canned artichoke hearts, sardines and salsas sold under a variety of labels, such as Hain Pure Foods, Tom’s of Maine and Annie’s Homegrown.

One of the more prominent products to come out of St. Augustine are sauces, salsas and other spicy selections made from Minorcan datil peppers. The Minorcans migrated to St. Augustine from Spain in 1777, bringing with them the seeds of their datil pepper. Local to the Florida city, the Spanish pepper was once believed to only grow here. Products created from the fragrant green and yellow peppers range from mild to hot, but no matter the sweat factor, all are incredibly flavorful. The owners of Minorcan Datil Pepper Products grow, cook and bottle their products in St. Augustine, and the end result combines a sweet flavor with a slow burn for a truly unique hot sauce.

Started as a hobby, the family-run business has grown into a 15-year-old company selling datil-flavored products, from barbecue sauce to pepper jelly, all made in small batches with locally grown ingredients. Boasting recipes faithful to the Minorcan families who first brought datils to the area, Sherry Stoppelbein’s acclaimed Datil B. Good hot sauces are also cultivated, manufactured and bottled in St. Augustine, sold at local stores and online through the Datil Daddy’s Web site. Datil Daddy’s is known for its jerky, created by combining Black Angus beef with the datil pepper and adding flavors such as hickory or teriyaki. If you need to cool off after all those peppers, the best thing to do might be to fan yourself with a hat from the Panama Hat Company. A native of Ecuador and her husband founded the business in 1985, and their headwear has been spotted on celebs including Kevin Spacey, who wears the custom fedora.