The next time your pasty chef goes to make his lemon tart, how about using something that tastes as close to the fruit as the fruit itself, but without having to peel it or remove the seeds or get rid of the core?According to Denis Boursier, Director of Sales and Marketing at Les vergers Boiron, you can’t tell the difference between the company’s fruit puree and the actual lemon, he claims. It’s a delicate balance, but Boursier swears the company has gotten it right.
The Boiron family founded an initial fruit trading business in Paris, then, in the early seventies, launched the first processed and frozen fruit, sold in the form of purees, to meet the requirements of pastry chefs. In recent years, it’s also launched a savory line of vegetable purees.
“Initially, when we came on the market, our puree was labeled as a specialty for the pastry chef but we moved into selling it to ice cream makers, as well. Puree is the key ingredient of sorbet,” Boursier explains. “Fruit is processed by the ice cream maker into puree so we’re bringing them a ready-to-use ingredient.”
“The company’s 70 fruits and vegetables are selected from the best producing areas, harvested at maturity, processed using adapted technology, then frozen to maintain all their original flavors,” Boursier notes. “They are assembled by our experts according to methods inspired by champagne-making in order to guarantee the consistency of our products all year long.”
Its fruit comes from all over the world. “We source fruit wherever it grows best,” he points out. “Some is grown in France. That’s why our company is based in Valence, in the Rhone valley. It’s a major orchard region in France, so we buy some fruits locally from there – our peaches, apricots, kiwi, grapes. Our tropical fruit comes from tropical countries. Much of our grapefruit comes from Eastern Europe.”
But Les vergers Boiron didn’t stop at just the sweet side. “Yes, we started on the sweet and dessert side,” Boursier points out. “Then we discovered that bartenders use our product, too. They get it from the freezer of the pastry chef and use it behind the bar. You can use our fruit puree in any type of cocktail where you need fruit. It could be a martini, a daiquiri, or a mojito. As well as many other cocktails that use fruit.
Bartenders now happily use our fruit puree instead of actual lemons or limes. The big advantage is that there’s no waste and it’s time-saving. No peeling, no scraping out the seeds. It’s all done for you.”
As for the savory side, the vegetable purees, Boursier says that they have the same quality as the fruit. “We target the savory and catering side,” he says. “We’ve even launched some that could be used as a side dish.”
Boursier adds that there are two reasons why restaurants choose Les vergers Boiron’s purees. “It’s a time-saving advantage. Through being available, frozen, ready to use, there’s no need to prepare. Time is money. Also, when you use our puree, you have two pounds of ingredients, whereas, when you buy two pounds of peaches, you’re lucky if you get one pound that you can use. It cuts way down on the labor and waste.”
The second reason, he states, is that the company blends the fruits it buys in much the same way champagne is processed to consistently maintain its taste, bubbles and color.
“We guarantee professional quality,” Boursier affirms. “The fruits we get are in season. We’ll blend them in our factory and make batches of purees so they have the same taste, flavor, colors, texture and the same sugar content level. That’s a critical advantage for any chef.”
The first step in making a fruit puree? The best fruit of course. “But secondly, the processing of the fruit into a liquid, then the blending of the fruit water and sugar, is done in such a way by us that the result tastes almost as much like the fruit itself,” he says.
In comparison to champagne, he notes, you have the blending of still white wine from different regions, or growers, to make sure when a consumer buys a brand of champagne, he will get the same taste and bubbles and color as the time before. “That’s what we want to achieve. Whenever you buy strawberry puree from Boiron, it will be exactly the same,” he promises. “We choose and blend the fruit that in the end makes that consistent result. Our job is not to buy fruits, throw them in a machine and wait for it to be packaged, frozen, put on the shelf. Our job is to blend what we can find to make sure that the end result is consistent.”
And what if it’s not a good year for some kinds of fruit? “If we don’t get the fruit we need, we will not produce that flavor,” he says. “It happened years ago that there were some issues with the weather in the region for blood oranges. We didn’t make the puree that year. A couple of years ago, coconut, which comes from Thailand, was affected by major flooding, and the growing was disrupted. So we discontinued that reference for one year. It’s a big step, and it’s tough on the chef,” he admits. “A chef may have it on the menu but it’s part of our commitment to the chef — when they get a product from us, it has to be the standard quality they are expecting of us. If we can’t get it through the blending or the sourcing, we don’t do it.”
Boursier explains that when a chef or a restaurateur goes to a market and buys fruit, it can be nice one day, and not so nice the next day. “You have to throw away some of it, and you can’t be sure what you get. With our products, you can be sure of the end result because our product is of consummate quality. That’s a major satisfaction driver,” he says.
Les vergers Boiron has been in the U.S. for about 20 years. There are differences in the markets, he says. “The French market is very much based on the pastry chef, the boutique side of the business, where other markets, including the US, are based on the hotel and restaurant side of the business.”
The good news for chefs is that Les Vergers Boiron purees are warehoused in New Jersey and are sold through distributors that are located all over the country. This makes it easy for the Chefs to get the purees.
Compared to competitors, Boursier says, they don’t license their fruit and have it made in someone else’s factory. “We make all our purees in our own factories. We capitalize on our know-how, because the versions are our own. That does make a difference.”