It started simply enough: A hard-working family began canning the fresh local produce that grew so abundantly around them, and then proudly put their name on it. Eight decades later, Dei Fratelli and Silver Fleece products, manufactured by the Hirzel Canning Company, are two of the most recognized brands of tomato and sauerkraut products on grocery shelves.
Hirzel Canning was founded in 1923 by the late Carl R. Hirzel, a Brewmaster by trade who turned to growing and canning vegetables. His first product was sauerkraut, sold in wooden kegs and barrels. The next year he began canning kraut, with the help of his wife Lena and oldest son, Karl. The third year they packed their first fancy whole tomatoes.
As the company's reputation for selective farming and canning grew, it wasn't long before Hirzel bought their first delivery
truck and began taking orders. The company grew steadily over the years, and presently is operated by the third and fourth generations of the family.
Today, there are three processing plants located in the Northwestern Ohio communities of Northwood, Pemberville and Ottawa, with extensive greenhouse and farming operations that produce some of the raw product requirements. Just as in their grandfather's day, the company carefully seeds and germinates their tomatoes. Except now, they're grown in elaborate greenhouses until the plants are old enough to be transplanted to the fields. In addition, over 30 independent family farmers supply fresh tomatoes and cabbage.
Quality canning and preserving are a passion at Hirzel Canning — and freshness is an important ingredient in that process — so all growers of their tomatoes and cabbage are located within a 20-mile radius of one of the plants. This close proximity ensures the raw product is of the highest quality when it arrives for processing — nearly all of it within 6 to 10 hours of harvest! The company nurtures close relationships with these farmers, working together to ensure consistent quality, reasonable cost, and timely delivery.
Today, the wood barrels are gone. Hirzel products are produced in stainless steel processing systems and packaged in stateof-the-art containers to preserve their garden-fresh taste. All products are carefully inspected throughout the planting, harvesting and canning processes.
In short, though times have changed since the company's early years, the Hirzel vision continues to be focused on the very concepts that led to its success from the beginning:
developing prosperous relationships with local growers, and using the freshest local produce. Only by carefully supervising all levels of processing from seed to the final package can the Hirzel Canning Company guarantee constant improvement in company performance and customer satisfaction.
Carl R. Hirzel would be proud. The company continues to provide products that are so good you'll swear you picked them yourself.
Hirzel Canning is located at 411 Lemoyne Road, Northwood, Ohio 43619. For more information, visit www.deifratelli.com.
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