Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Food Farmer Earth: Packing Pickles

A behind-the-scenes look at an important part of a vital regional food system. My interview for Food Farmer Earth with Paul Fuller of Sweet Creek Foods.

Paul Fuller and his wife Judy have been building their food processing business—they refer to it as a “glassery” rather than a cannery—for 12 years. They started Sweet Creek Foods by processing pickles, then moved on to jams, tomatoes, salsa and tuna. But what they were really building, according to Paul, was an essential piece of a regional food system.

Fuller noticed that a huge amount of perfectly good, fresh produce from local farms was being tossed out because it had a small blemish or was not the right size. Knowing that wasted produce meant lost income for farmers, he sensed an opportunity to help the farmers as well as build a viable business for his family. With that goal in mind, he and Judy started producing fresh pack pickles, something they’d enjoyed doing for themselves for years.

It took a few batches to perfect their technique so that the pickles had the right amount of crispness, but they now produce 100% certified organic bread and butter pickles, garlic dills and chili dills. Using cider vinegar rather than the standard distilled vinegar, they fresh pack their pickles by brining them in cool salt water for 24 to 48 hours. The brined cucumbers are hand-packed in jars, pickling spices are added and then a hot vinegar brine is poured over them. This pickles them in the jar rather than using a fermentation process to do the pickling, which Fuller feels gives them a fresher flavor.

Read the rest of the story here. Watch part two of the interview, Co-Packing Helps Farms Succeed. Get regular updates on this series about our local food scene by subscribing. This week's recipe: easy bread and butter pickles!

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