Luco Farms – makers of marvelous mustard – had a problem. The seals on the jars of their artisan mustard, which is made from mustard seed grown in southern Alberta, weren’t sealing properly. While this didn’t affect the quality or safety of the Prairie Flower, Prairie Sun, Prairie Lightning or the other prairie-based flavours, it did leave customers concerned when they didn’t hear the satisfying “pop” upon first opening.
So Robert Luco and his son, Ben Luco, went to the Tecconnect centre for entrepreneurship and innovation in Lethbridge, a vibrant place for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses within a supportive and innovative environment. There, they connected with Lethbridge College, where food scientist and chef Rob Sonnenberg and his students joined in the effort to find a solution.
In just a year, and with support from an NSERC Engage grant as well as some trial and error, they solved the problem: a new way to vacuum seal the jars, plus a switch of kinds of salt, did the trick. Now, thousands of jars of Luco Farms mustard are making their way throughout the region, each one opening with a pop that reveals a small but significant southern Alberta – and Lethbridge College applied research – success story.
Read more about this partnership in the fall Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Report prepared by Lethbridge College.
A PEEK AT PART OF THE MUSTARD-MAKING PROCESS
1. Robert and Ben Luco pour a batch of Prairie Spirit mustard into the dispensing machine.
2. The dispensing machine is set to fill the bottles with the perfect amount in a flash. For the sake of the photo shoot, the Lucos slowed the process down.
3. The Lucos hand tighten each jar.
4. Ben Luco places a batch in the vacuum sealer, which was created from an old sink from the Marquis hotel. In just 60 seconds, the lids are sealed.
5. Each label is placed by hand.