By Aram Arkun
FRESNO, Calif. – Ohanyan’s Bastirma and Soujouk Company is one of the major US producers of pastirma (or bastirma), a cured meat delicacy loved by Armenians and non-Armenians alike. Recently, supplies have been dwindling in stores in the Boston area and elsewhere which obtain their pastirma from Ohanyan’s.
According to Jirayr Hancer, owner of the Fresno-based company, the reason is that the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has asked that a validation study be conducted by scientists for bacterial safety. During this process, the factory, which also makes sujuk and manti, cannot make any new pastirma. The scientists in an outside laboratory must duplicate the process used by Ohanyan’s.
Hancer, in this business for 35 years, said that this is a new process, and his company appears to be the first of the pastirma makers to go through it. He estimates that there may be around ten pastirma makers in the US. The study began in July, and hopefully will be finished soon. However, once it is finished, it will take at least another month to get a new batch of pastirma aged and ready. Ohanyan’s sells pastirma both retail and wholesale in the US.