Only in the not-so-distant past, pickling was done out of necessity, as a way to enjoy seasonal vegetables year-round, and to eat during long trips when food wasn’t readily available.
The process usually involves lots of vinegar and results in saltier, tangier veggies, such as asparagus, cucumber, onions, green beans, and anything else that can be pickled. It’s become a popular hobby and business for some, and was even cited in a 2013 food trends report as being an emerging trend among the hip, cool crowd.
Cue Portlandia’s "We can pickle that" skit.
Thanks to advances in food preservation techniques, today’s pickling methods aren’t just about making sure vegetables are on the shelf during the cold winter months. It’s about preserving with a punch – adding herbs and spices like cayenne, horseradish, black pepper and habanero to infuse the tasty jarred bites, says Jason Poole, co-owner of Sacramento-based Preservation & Co.
"We are trying to pack in some great flavor and some seriously fresh product," said Brad Peters, co-owner of Preservation & Co. "Sounds funny when you’re pickling, to have something that needs to be so fresh, because you’re taking it and preserving it, but if you’re not using the freshest products, your flavors are going to be compromised."
Poole and Peters wants to take the brining business to the next level, and have the space to whip up his award-winning Bloody Mary mix. Right now Poole is spending nights and early mornings creating the concoction in Pour House’s kitchen, where he’s general manager. Before that, he was mixing the blend at Kasbah Lounge’s kitchen during the afternoons.
Due to increased demand, which likely received a bump after Poole won second place in Absolut Vodka’s "Bloody Mary Search 2012," the business needs room to grow. So he’s moving Preservation & Co. into a 3,200 square-feet building just around the corner on 19th Street, and building a commercial kitchen.
"Sacramento’s food scene is blowing up, and in order to continue that growth, we need to have a surplus of fresh, locally made goods, by artisans," said Peters.
While Poole and Peters have secured the money for the new space, they’ve started a Kickstarter account to help pay for supplies – jars, labels, vinegar, spices, produce and shipping packaging. With a goal of $10,000, and two weeks left, they’ve reached more than $5,000, but have a ways to go.
And the business partners are doing more than moving into a building. Along with the commercial kitchen, the space will include a retail section toward the front, so customers can buy pickled asparagus, green beans, spicy carrots, red beets, and of course, the Bloody Mary mix. There will be an emphasis on locally produced, shelf stable, unique food products, as well as culinary gadgets that can prove difficult to find locally, Peters said.
This is a risky financial investment, the owners admit. So to help cushion the cost, they’re renting out the kitchen to 10 other companies to use during off hours. "This will help them grow to the level that we have been able to achieve, and will also help us soften the blow of the lease and utilities," the Kickstarter site stated.
"I know Jason has a very strong connection to the local food movement, and he’s really engaged in creating a product that’s high quality and in demand in the Sacramento region," said Midtown Business Association Director Elizabeth Studebaker. "He has a focus on quality that I’m confident will translate into his new business."
By using produce from local farms and packing the jars by hand, Preservation & Co. is also part of a bigger movement that seems to be sweeping the country, Studebaker said. "It’s a really popular trend right now, because people are trying to determine how they can enhance the local produce in a way that it’s not just sitting around and going bad," she said. "You can eat it later in this preserved fashion, that’s healthy and tasty and a good way to support local farmers."
The owners hope to have the space ready and open by April, and to have Preservation & Co. jars in more than 100 stores by the end of the first year in the new space. As far as the Kickstarter support, the community has been very supportive and generous, Peters said.
"It’s weird how perceptive and supportive this community is," he said. "I’m not sure if heartwarming is the right word."
Right now you can buy pickled veggies and the Bloody Mary mix at Pour House. Tres Hermanas also uses the mix, as does Zocalo. ,
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