To entrepreneurial growers, cannabis is like a fine wine.
“The marijuana strains that they’re growing now are so precise as far as how they grow it — the soil, the temperature — that you should be pairing it with a great chocolate,” says pastry chef Suzanne Dervaes, one of the creative drivers behind the Peterson Company, which supplies about two dozen edibles producers across Washington with anything from chocolate and peanut butter to oils and cheese.
Founded nearly 70 years ago in Seattle as a Scandinavian cheese importer, the Peterson Company is now one of the leading U.S. importers of European specialty foods. In its history, rarely has the company found a better opportunity for new business than with the fast-growing cannabis industry. And that’s great for Dervaes, who came to Peterson after working for some of the most popular restaurants in Western Washington. Now she spends much of her time teaching companies the tricks behind making high-end cannabis-infused edibles.
Marijuana Venture spoke with Dervaes about some of her top baking tips and biggest takeaways on developments in the infused edibles market.
Marijuana Venture: What trends are you seeing from companies making edibles?
Suzanne Dervaes: Sugar-free and vegan have been big things, and lots of diabetic chocolates. Organic chocolate has been really popular right now, and also the caramel.
MV: In your opinion, which type of fat is best for edibles?
SD: A lot of people like to extract using oils or coconut oils, things like that. But cocoa butter is a natural emulsifier, so you don’t have to worry about your chocolate separating or extracting with something foreign and then putting it into the chocolate.
MV: For anyone looking to make edibles on a commercial scale, is it best to hire trained chocolatiers and pastry chefs, like yourself?
SD: Working with Peterson definitely has its benefits. You get a support system, which is nice. Not to mention that we can also deliver direct to your account. But you’re not sourcing out, you’re not constantly driving around to find the best product. We just kind of have everything here. And if they need me, I’m more than willing to come out and help develop recipes. I’ve gone out to quite a few places to help out and develop a basic recipe that they can then infuse themselves.
MV: How do you see the market for edibles evolving in the near future?
SD: I think with being more open about it, we have a much more sophisticated palate for these products now. I think the savory side is something that’s going to start exploding here pretty soon.
MV: What are you seeing as some of the most popular and effective products for making edibles?
SD: We sell what are called loaves, but they’re loaves of caramel. Those seem to work really well. People can melt those down, infuse the oil into them and pour them back into chocolate shells, or they can fill them into truffle shells. We also have pre-done hollow chocolate shells that people can use to make their own ganache.
MV: What advice do you have for someone looking to begin producing edibles?
SD: I would definitely say get your basic Pastry 101 taken care of first. I see a lot of people that just kind of jump into this business because they want to make some cash, and they don’t necessarily have the chocolate or pastry background. You can make stuff and you get high from it, but does it taste good? For me, if I’m going to spend $10 to $30 on something, I want it to taste amazing, as well.