HELPING PEOPLE IN A PICKLE
Local producers give back, while offering vinegary goodness.
WRITTEN BY ERIN MEYERING
PHOTOS BY ASA GILMORE AND CHRIS HOLLOMAN
Pickles are marvelous, aren’t they? With vinegar, spices, and a dash of technique, we’re able to preserve some of the season’s produce. Taking that deliciousness a step further, two Northern Nevada pickle company owners support local farmers and service the community by offering their locally brined bounty.
In May 2014, Nevada Brining Co. became the state’s first artisanal pickle company, selling its own house-made pickles, rubs, brines, sauces, and bar accoutrements. And have you ever tried a boozy pickle? The folks at Nevada Brining have collaborated with several local whiskey and beer producers to infuse booze into the brine.
Owner Matt Soter, aka The Pickle Guy, grew up in Virginia and admits pickling was a way of life. When he found out he had severe gout at just 34 years of age, Soter sought alternative treatments, one being pickle juice. After downing a few ounces every morning for two months, the gout was gone and he was off all medications.
After having such a profound, positive change in his health, and with his experience in the restaurant business since age 18, Soter decided to combine his love of food, health, pickles, and his local community.
“[I thought], here’s a good chance for me to create a business the [people of this] state could be proud of while promoting the healing aspects and health benefits of pickles,” Soter says.
Selling pickled products isn’t Soter’s only priority.
Occasionally he hosts pickling classes that are open to the public, especially young people.
“We’ve really focused on [Nevada] youth[s],” Soter says. “A lot of children aren’t educated about the art of preserving food.”
In fact, Soter also donates the company’s products to organizations that support young people, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows, and Girl Scouts Sierra Nevada, to name a few.
In the summer, Soter received a welcome thank you for all of his hard work and community giving. Whole Foods chose Nevada Brining (along with 12 other businesses) to benefit from its Local Producers Day, giving them a portion of its regional sales on July 20. With the $15,000 grant, Soter hopes to expand Nevada Brining Co.’s product line. Look for hot sauces, drinking vinegars, and pickled mustard seeds (what he calls poor man’s caviar with a white balsamic brine).
For details, visit http://www.Nevadabrining.com or find Nevada Brining Company on Facebook.
Jerry Mitchell is one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet. He has a simple but touching story that led him to the pickle business. He played football for the University of Nevada, Reno, studied horticulture, and was known for consistently making a mean pickle. On Friday nights, you may find him at Craft Wine & Beer in Reno enjoying the company of friends and family members over a nice charcuterie plate and, of course, his pickles.
“I was one of those kids that wasn’t into sugar,” Mitchell says. “I liked pickles, man.”
Although pickles (and agriculture) had always been in his life, his main priorities were caring for his family and managing his landscaping business. But after losing his beloved wife, Kindra, to ovarian cancer several years ago, Mitchell tried to cope with his loss by helping others.
“It was part of my healing to find a cause to give back to,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell created the pickle business as a way of pursuing his love for fermentation and supporting a cause he was passionate about. After operating costs, all proceeds from The Mitchell Pickle go to Moms on the Run, a local breast cancer charity, to help mothers with cancer deal with day-to-day needs, such as rent or groceries.
He first started selling his homemade products in April 2015. Although he currently borrows the kitchen at Mari & Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen in Reno’s Midtown District to make his pickles, he is looking to expand into a commercial kitchen.
Mitchell’s three children and two grandchildren help with the charitable business, when possible, attending farmers’ markets and passing out samples of Mitchell’s pickled green beans, cauliflower, green tomatoes, asparagus, and sauerkraut. Production manager (and friend of the family) Mandi Nash also brought her 10-plus-year love of pickles and pickled eggs to the company when she joined the team in May. Nash and Mitchell often trade fermentation facts over their casual meetings over drinks at Craft. They take great pride in providing a tasty product while raising money for a worthy cause.
For details, visit http://www.Themitchellpickle.com or find The Mitchell Pickle on Facebook.
While interviewing for this story, Erin Meyering became a pickle juice fanatic. What keeps the doctor away? Delicious, vinegar-laden pickle juice, she says.
Mitchell Pickle Pickled Peaches
(courtesy of Jerry Mitchell, owner, The Mitchell Pickle in Reno. Makes two 32-ounce jars)
8 medium or large, ripe but firm freestone peaches
Juice of 1 lemon
1½ tablespoons freshly cracked allspice
1 cinnamon stick
½ small to medium whole vanilla bean (optional)
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup water
¾ cup raw brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 slices (¾ teaspoon) fresh ginger
Bring everything but the peaches to slow boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Peel peaches, cut in half, remove pit, and add lemon juice to peaches. Add peaches to brine and stew for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Place peaches and brine in clean jars, then place in refrigerator.
Peaches are ready in 3 days and can be eaten for 2 months.
In addition to more obvious uses, consider using the brine in marinades, barbecued meat, or cocktails.
Spicy Pickled Ginger
(courtesy of Matt Soter, owner, Nevada Brining Co. in Reno. Makes 10 to 12 ounces)
½ cup fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 2 lemons
3 to 4 green chiles
Peel and wash ginger. Pat dry with kitchen towel.
Cut ginger into thin juliennes or strips. Place juliennes in glass mixing bowl, add salt, and stir well. Set aside for 5 minutes or until ginger releases water and turns soft.
While ginger is in bowl, slice chiles diagonally into thin, long slices. Add chiles and lemon juice to ginger and stir thoroughly. Let pickles rest for few minutes at room temperature; ginger will change color, becoming light pink.
Transfer instant pickled ginger to clean and dry glass jar, seal jar with lid, and store in refrigerator.