Anyone who knows me knows I love me some pickles. They are the perfect snack and go with just about any savory dish. They've even been shown to lower stress levels. And the world of pickling is just beginning to have its moment, with people pickling everything from classic cucumbers to more inventive foods like pineapples.
When I heard that there was a storefront that opened in Chelsea Market devoted to pickles, I had to go for a visit. Dickson's Farmstand Meats has been a staple in the Market for several years, but its newest venture, Dickson's Fine Brines is an incredible ode to fermented food everywhere. Owner, Jake, and "Master Fermentor," Josh, were happy to walk me through the new idea and talk to me about all things pickle.
Over the summer, Jake had the idea to start a pickle lab, wherein they use Allen Pickle Work's cucumbers to create new varieties of the popular side. " Pickles were always a big part of my childhood," he explained when I asked where the idea came from, "I like condiments; I like snacks; I like pickles."
The market gave them six weeks notice, while the process usually takes about three weeks alone, so they quickly scrambled to find a fermentation expert to come up with some good variety for the stand
Josh stepped up to create 32 different products that each fall within three categories. There's fermented, fermented/pickled and pickled/acidified. These are in addition to the already popular kimchis and saurkrauts they had already been selling.
I really felt like I was getting the full experience when he took me to their "pickle lab," which was full of ingredients, and even had some giant crates full of kimchi that had just been set to ferment. It's got about three weeks until it will be ready to serve.
Josh talked fermentation with me as he scrubbed the lab himself. "This is essentially my baby," he told me. He conceptualizes the product and says he loves going up to talk to customers about the flavors. Who knows the product more than the man behind it
So what do they offer? The real question is what don't they offer. They've got classics, as well as some surprisingly good new favorites of mine. The Beet & Purple Cabbage Kraut was one surprising standout as it was not as sweet as one might expect, and is also a favorite of Josh.
Another was the Black Tea Pickle, which Josh created himself. He explained that once you let Black Tea sit and cool, it's not as bitter and lends a great flavor to foods, especially pickles.
They also offer fermented hot sauce, which gives it a nice salty taste to balance what's usually sweet and spicy, and a new-to-the-menu Bloody Mary mix.
In short, if you're looking for some pickle action, or even want to learn more about making your own with one of their kits, get yourself to Chelsea Market and try all 32 flavors yourself.