Product Profile: Lula’s Fruit Crisp Mix

You should never speak badly of your competition, they say.

Grayscale Lulas in a  bowl

I understand what’s behind that. And I won’t speak badly of anyone here. But I have to tell you that I definitely spent a good chunk of time, in the early phases of Your Spice of Life,  looking at what my competitors were doing. I had a very critical eye, and made careful note of what I appreciated about their products, whether it be packaging, price or taste — and also things I was not a fan of.

Never did I pay so much attention to this,  as I did when I was developing my fruit crisp mix,  later to be named “Lula’s Fruit Crisp Mix” after a friend’s mother in South Carolina.

On its own,  fruit crisp is not an original product. In other words, I wasn’t inventing something here, like I’ve done since with products like Sunny Sicilian and Chai Comfort, I was just trying to develop the BEST version possible of a traditional fruit crisp,

Starting with the packaging, I went and looked at a few crisp mixes that were available in local stores. There were a few that had GREAT designs!

IMG_0746IMG_0748

Even the more conventional packages were still colorful and attractive:

IMG_0749 IMG_0744

I liked the custom packaging but knew that my design, at least at first, had to be an off-the-shelf solution.  It has gone through a few iterations, but here is the first Lula’s packaging:

old LUla bag close up

Since then, the bag has evolved from this brown lunch bag tied closed with butcher twine, to a fancy windowed 1/2lb coffee bag with an appealing label:

lula front label2

Having a phenomenal product INSIDE the bag took a lot of time to get right!

I picked up a dozen different mixes, to evaluate the taste, ease of preparation, integrity of ingredients, originality, and value. Let’s just say… the results were MIXED.IMG_0779

IMG_0756Lula competitor like sandIMG_0771turkey gravy apple crispIMG_0778IMG_0776IMG_0611

I had lots of notes about what worked and what didn’t; now it was time for my own recipe.

I experimented with the ratios of sugar to oats, as well as different types of flour to use (regular wheat, whole wheat, rice flour). The spice blend needed a lot of tweaking, too.

Lula testing recipe

After much testing, I found the perfect formula:  whole wheat flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, Turbinado sugar, and a peppery spice blend that is based on my “Sweet Asian” spice blend.

Lula's pretty picture

The front of the package and the contents were all set;  now,  the back.

The usage instructions and ingredient lists on other products were hit or miss — some great, some really sketchy. I took notes, and knew I wanted to leave lots of room for info on the back label of mine:

Lula back label PONY

In the end, my Lula’s Spiced Fruit Crisp turned out to be a delicious, easy-to-make product!

The final result: hello Lula!

The final result: Hello Lula! (photo credit: Jason Foster-Bey)

Did you know?

One bag will cover all the fruit in a traditional lasagna pan (13″x9″) or you can also split up the bag and make two 8″x8″ brownie pans.

Want individual servings instead? You can make about 8 of the little Pyrex custard cups, using about 1/2 cup of mix per serving.

Cooked fruit crisp freezes well (to my own surprise). The rolled oats hold up and don’t get mushy.

Lula's ready to eat

Re: the butter: the instructions say to dot the top of the mix with butter. That works very well, but some people prefer to mix melted butter into the actual mix, instead. I’ve also had a few customers who mix the cold butter into the mix,  like you would with a pie crust recipe. These all result in a different texture, so you will just have to try to see which method you like best.

Finally, the fruit itself:  I called this “fruit crisp” mix because I did not want to restrict it to apples, although they are certainly the most popular fruit to use for crisp. I’ve experimented a lot and found that the best results come from combinations:

  • apples — several different varieties mixed together
  • apple and plum,  apple and peach
  • apple and mango,  with some toasted coconut mixed into the topping

Many people enjoy fruit crisp with a topping like ice cream or whipped cream. While it’s not “necessary”, a topping can add a final flourish to this dessert. My own favorite is a chunk of goat cheese left to ooze all over the top of the Lula’s… mmm.

If you have any interesting combinations,  or topping suggestions,  let me know please!

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Posted on September 29, 2013, in Fact Sheet, Lula's Crisp Mix and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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