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Food Crafting Grows Up

Pickling 101: Learning at Home


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With the craft food movement gaining steam, classes and workshops on such topics as pickling, jamming, and fermenting have popped up all over the Bay Area. But when the Food Craft Institute opened in Jack London Square earlier this year, it seemed like this hip trend had officially hit the mainstream. Founded in April by the same folks behind the popular Eat Real Festival, the institute offers intensive 12-week courses geared not to hobbyists but to budding entrepreneurs looking to start food companies.

“I think that the Food Craft Institute is trying to give a stage for all the inspiration that people are feeling around the DIY food movement,” says Todd Champagne of lauded pickling and preserving company Happy Girl Kitchen.

Adding to the allure is the fact that some of the Bay Area’s most celebrated food crafters are on board: The spring course on jams, marmalades, and chutneys featured instruction from the founders of June Taylor Jams, Blue Chair Fruit, and Inna Jams. Champagne is one of the instructors in the pickles, krauts, and ferments course, starting on July 28, but for those of you without business aspirations (or 12 weeks to spare), the self-described “Professor Pickle” gave us three quick tips on pickling at home. foodcraftinstitute.org.
 


 

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Pickling 101: Learning at Home

 

1. Pick your Brain

Champagne says Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz is the pickling bible. There are also several one-off classes in the East Bay, including those offered by Institute of Urban Homesteading (iuhoakland.com), Happy Girl Kitchen (happygirlkitchen.com), and We Olive (weolive.com).   
 

2. Pick your Method

There are two main pickling strategies for vegetables: vinegar and salt-water fermentation. Using vinegar is faster and easier, says Champagne, while salt-water ferment takes more time—but can yield more complex flavors and health benefits.
 

3. Pick your Produce

Yes, cucumbers are the sexy choice, but the relatively soft fruit is also easy to mess up. Hardier vegetables such as carrots or cauliflower make for more forgiving pickling subjects. If you do choose cucumbers, remember to get special pickling cucumbers.

 

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