We make every attempt to maintain the quality of the environment through numerous efforts. Our water for the cultivation of our trout is used only four times before it is put into a holding pond where it is allowed to settle out the limited amount of solids which remains in suspension upon leaving the the last cultivation raceway. We monitor the water quality to assure that no change occurs to the integrity of the stream. Our special feed formulas are also low in phosphorus which helps contribute to maintaining the pristine quality of the water. How do we solve the problem of discarding the waste accumulated during the production process?
We compost every scrap every day. If you have ever kept a garden, you may have made your own compost from kitchen scraps, and you know how important compost can be for the cultivation of plants in an all natural way. Here at Sunburst we have designed a process in which forced air is fed through the compost wind-rows.
When sawdust is added to the waste and air is introduced to the system, a natural bacteria forms which breaks down the tissue leaving only beneficial minerals and nutrients which makes for a natural fertilizer. Each spring local farmers and gardeners buy the compost for a nominal fee. We feel good to be able to give back something for the good of all.
12,000 gallons per minute. Pure mountain water from the Shining Rock Wilderness area of Pisgah National Forest. Without a good source of water, trout farming simply can't be done. Here at Sunburst Trout Co., we are blessed with an abundance, allowing us to offer you delicious natural food gifts, natural caviar gifts and natural seafood. Without it, we would be just another trout farm. These high water flow rates are a leading contributor to the plumpness and firmness of our fish. Our trout exercise when swimming against these currents, and the result is very firm fish.
We have long been aware that the adage "you are what you eat" applies to our trout also. We are one of only a select few who use no animal products or by-products in trout feed manufactured for us. With fish grown at Sunburst Trout you can be assured that our finished product has been grown in a controlled environment with a careful eye towards quality, including the feed which goes into our trout. The pink color of these beauties comes from astaxanthin, a caretonoid which can be synthetic or naturally occuring in nature. Our special diet uses only natural astaxanthin which comes from Phaffia yeast and microalgae, which are both strong antioxidants.
The Production Line
Time from pond to cooler: 55 minutes
Fillets 8:00 am:
We capture trout from our own waters (many trout farms have fish trucked to the processing facility, often hours distant). Small amounts are netted by hand (never more than 1,000 pounds) put into an ice slurry to start the cooling process, and taken to the processing plant only steps away.
Our trout are allowed to quietly cool until they are still, and then transported 200 pounds at a time into the splitting pan where they are prepared by machine designed and built by Sunburst. They are now ready for the Swiss built filleter.
Once the trout pass through the filleter, the meticulous work of trimming is done by hand. We believe that no machine can replace the skilled hands needed to reach our exacting specifications at this stage of processing.
Following a thorough wash, the fillets are moved to the sorting, grading station. It is here that the fillets are selected by size, color and uniformity and the few fillets which are deemed to be inferior are culled. If the fillet is to have the pin bones removed, they then are moved to the station where this task is done by a U.S. built machine which we adapted to our process. Each fillet is then examined, and any pin bones missed are removed by hand.
On to the weighing station where the fillets are bagged for each customer and immediately put into the 10 degree cooling room. The secret is to finish what the ice has started and get these beauties to 36 degrees as fast as possible. Time from pond to cooler: 55 minutes
Packaging and Shipping
Once the product reaches 36 degrees or colder, it is ready to be packed for shipment. Because Sunburst uses a combination of air shipments, refrigerated truck delivery or Fed Ex, we pack the product according to each unique method to assure the product arrives in perfect condition. A combination of insulated boxing, wet ice and gel ice assures the integrity upon arrival. Most orders are prepared, cooled, packed and shipped within 24 hours, if not that same day. As to value added products, in Sunburst's kitchens we make further magic happen. Caviar, smoked trout, dips, trout cakes, jerky, all come to life with our own unique recipes and blends.
The smoking process
Every smoking session is unique in that the amount of humidity in the air, the temperature on that particular day, and other variables make each smoking slightly different than the last one. We don't use any timers on our smokers so that our smoker techs can determine for themselves that the optimum time is reached for that particular batch.
We use Southern Hickory and Biltmore House Grapevine to generate the smoke, and after approximately four hours, the end result is smoked trout, golden brown, moist, and a truly superior product. Once the product is smoked to our complete satisfaction. The trolleys are moved when the cooler where the smoked trout is allowed to cool to 36 degrees.
Once cooled, it is vacuum-packed and is ready for shipment. When Trout is smoked and vacuum-packed, it remains in superb condition for over six weeks when stored in your refrigerator.
Hot Smoked Trout
We start with premium fillets, totally boneless, hand picked for plumpness, and then brine them overnight in a slightly sweet salt bath. The following morning our smoker techs load the racks, choosing the specialty cuts carefully. The Portion Cut fillets smoke near the top of the racks. This assures that they receive enough heat to smoke completely since they are thicker. Below the portion-cut are the whole fillets, and last, the meat used in our smoked trout dip. The meat for the dip is skinless as well as boneless. A blend of spices is rubbed on a portion of the cut fillets and the whole smoked fillets, while the dip meat uses another spice mixture. Smoking Trout is an art, not a science
Hot Smoked Trout Dip
Our Sunburst Farms Smoked Trout Dip is one of our most popular items. Unlike copy-cat spreads which use little smoked fish and a lot of filler, our smoked trout dip is full of smoked trout, pure cream cheese, sour cream, and fresh vegetables to form a unique blend. It's great as an appetizer with crackers or toast, or try it instead of tuna on your favorite bread for a great sandwich. We think you will say it is the best smoked trout dip you have ever tasted.
60% of the weight of each trout cake comes from trout. To help bind the cake, we use light bread crumbs. We then add fresh cilantro, onion and red sweet peppers and then we add seasoning and sauces. We shape each cake by hand and what you have is a light delicious meal which can be presented in a number of ways. All natural ingredients and no preservatives.
As the whole trout pass through the production line, the eggs are selected and immediately placed in an iced container. Only the eggs which are still in the skein (the protective sack which protects the eggs) are selected as loose eggs are undesirable because they are too far developed and are too hard. After the eggs, or roe, are collected they are graded for quality and washed. Next we strip the row from the skein and the eggs are drained through a specially made tray to remove the excess water. After the draining is achieved, the eggs are returned to a pan where exacting proportions of pure salt and sugars are added to "set" the roe and further reduce the moisture content thus giving the desired result of a firm yet delicate egg which is now caviar. Placed in jars, avoiding any contact with metal which can easily disrupt the taste of fine caviar, the end product is ready to cool and ship. We think the mild, delicate taste of our caviar is an excellent introduction for those who have never tried caviar before, and for the connoisseur we feel sure you will agree that it will make a fine addition to the premium caviars to which you are accustomed.
North Carolina’s revival of a centuries old Scottish tradition
Cold Smoked Rainbow Trout
While searching southern Europe for traditional European smoking techniques, Dick (who speaks fluent French) befriended three French trout farmers. The encounter proved to be a valuable learning experience.
As larger and larger trout were grown through ever improving technology, the opportunity to smoke trout in the same manner as ocean going salmon became a reality. The result is a milder taste than salmon, to which we have added delicate nuances with our unique combination of spices and our native, mild red oak smoke.
This product is in a class by itself!