Real Food, “Real Pickles”

Picture a pickle.

…A soggy companion to your burger and fries? Inside that unattended glass jar in your refrigerator labeled with an overly excited cartoon stork? Thrown on top of your turkey and cheese sandwich? Don’t worry, that’s how I used to think of pickles too.

Turns out, all pickles are not created equal. Dan Rosenberg and Addie Rose Holland, co-owners of Real Pickles, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, are changing the way we think about pickles- through a process called “lactic acid fermentation”

“We want to bring back the original way of making pickles,” Dan tells Ali and I on our visit to the pickling facility.  Natural fermentation- a process that preserves vegetables using only a salt water brine, does not only give pickles exceptional flavor, but also results in countless health benefits to consumers.  Fermentation aids digestion, helps with nutrient absorption, and stimulates metabolism.

Dan and Addie, Owners of Real Pickles

Dan first decided he wanted to be a pickle person when he attended a Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association (NOFA) workshop on putting up local food.  Inspired by the prospect of preserving fresh food and by the numerous health benefits fermented foods provide, Dan and Addie decided to start a business of their own. For the few years, they based their business out of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (WMFPC), in Greenfield, where they were able to get their grounding and plan for the future.  Now, Real Pickles is located just across the street from WMFPA in energy efficient facility that runs entirely on solar energy and utilizes a free-air system.

Installing the solar panels at the energy efficient facility

The couple sources the vegetables that they use for their delicious sauerkrauts, slaws, and pickles from various farms throughout the Northeast.  You can find vegetables from Atlas Farm, Old Friends Farm, Chamutka Farm, and Red Fire Farm pickled to perfection by Real Pickles. In order to support the regional food system, Dan and Addie also only sell their products in the Northeast. Dan stresses how important promoting local food is to both himself and the business as a whole.  “We want to act as an example,” he tells me.

The pickling process begins in the summer, when the vegetables are purchased from regional farms.  They are chopped and prepped, and then packed into large barrels where they will ferment.  For sauerkraut, fermentation takes approximately a month and a half, however the length depends on the time of year and the temperature of the room. Pickled cucumbers take less time to ferment, and are usually ready after about a week.

Real Pickles at the Amherst Winter Farmer's Market

And they don’t just stop at classic sauerkrauts and pickles… Real Pickles produces ginger carrot slaws, red sauerkrauts, garlic dill pickles, tomatillo hot sauces, etc.  Fermentation never tasted so good!

So throw away those old notions of what you thought a pickle was supposed to look and taste like, and get yourself a jar of “Real Pickles”!

Dig in,

Samantha

Winter 2012 Amherst Food Warrior

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