Well Now, That’s a Pickle
You’ve never had a pickle like this before! Locally made Sonoma Brinery pickles are fresh, raw and free this week at Sigona’s.
In 2003, Dave Ehreth, a former engineer, executive and consultant in the telecommunications industry, found himself in a pickle. Well, pickles. Real, edible pickles and lots of them.
And we’re so glad he did!
Dave has always had a thing for pickles. His father introduced him to a true barrel-fermented kosher pickle at the age of 13, and it was then that Dave developed a real passion around pickling.
Now officially retired from the telecommunications industry, Dave owns and operates Sonoma Brinery (formerly Alexander Valley Gourmet Foods) in Healdsburg, Calif., north of Santa Rosa, where he makes a living out of his pickling passion. To introduce you to his products, we’re offering a free 16 oz. container of his fresh bread & butter pickles next week (April 25 – May 1) with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more.
What Makes Them Different
Dave makes three different varieties of fresh, raw pickles and just recently tried his hand at raw sauerkraut. His first pickle was his first love, the classic half-sour kosher, followed by two bread & butter style pickles, original and spicy.
Unlike most commercial picklers, Dave’s operation pickles 52 weeks a year. Many processors do a few large batches a year, and 99% of the processors cook those pickles to extend shelf life. Not Dave. Dave’s pickles are fresh and cold-processed. There is no heat cooking or pasteurization involved. This preserves the fresh cucumber flavor as the brining style used does not allow time for complete fermentation, making for a very lively, fresh and crisp pickle.
Using a no-cooking method also preserves the health benefits of the cucumber. What’s more is the Sonoma Brinery pickles are all-natural, gluten-free and are void of preservatives and additives. Dave uses only fresh, raw ingredients, save for the dried spices in the brine, including fresh onions, garlic, cucumbers, pure cane sugar and roasted bell peppers, and turmeric root is used as a coloring agent so there is no need for artificial dyes.
“I take advantage of the vast array of fresh veggies that can be pickled from our region,” said Dave. “We live in an area that’s privileged in more ways than one. I really enjoyed the tech industry and had great success there building and doing things I’m very proud of, but I really enjoy the food industry. I like the idea of making things that add to people’s quality of life.”
To Pickle a Cucumber
Did you know there are more than 280 varieties of pickling cucumbers? Many have been hybridized for different applications; some are grown to be gigantic and some are grown to be just the right size for a McDonald’s hamburger.
Sonoma Brinery’s eight-man crew works with a particular family of cucumbers, favoring the Miss Pickle and Cross Country varieties.
“When looking for cucumbers, I look for thic skin and a very solid build. They also have to be cosmetically attractive,” said Dave. “With the bread & butter pickles, for example, this is important because the pickle has to look good sliced. Half-sour kosher pickles aren’t sliced, but sliced or not, you still want it to look good.”
Dave explained that a half-sour kosher pickle is named as such because they’re halfway through fermentation cycle. That’s really the art of a classic kosher. In this process, the cucumber is only partially fermented (or pickled) so it still maintains its cucumber flavor, yet has the tart and seasoned flavor of a pickle. Sonoma Brinery doesn’t stop fermentation completely; instead they slow the process to the perfect-pickle point through refrigeration.
For the Love of the Zing
“We all fantasize about having a second crack at what we wanted to do in life, so when I had an opportunity to change careers, I went for it,” said Dave. “While looking for something new to do, I decided the West Coast was missing a good kosher pickle. I’ve always made pickles from my summer garden cucumbers so it was one of those things that by the time I delivered my first product to market in 2005, I’d been making pickles for 30 years.”
Most pickle lovers, Dave included, can’t even dream of going pickle-less while eating a dish perfectly designed for that pickle zing. Heck, a “big kosher pickle” even gets a shout out in Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise.
“Eating a pastrami sandwich is an excuse to eat about four kosher pickles,” said Dave. “As for pulled pork sandwiches or other barbequed meat sandwiches, like a grilled chicken, I wouldn’t think about eating one without our bread & butter pickles.
“Ten years ago, if you wanted a good kosher, you’d have to fly to the East Coast to get one,” continued Dave. “What I see myself doing here is filling a culinary gap on the grocer’s shelf and bringing an invaluable food experience to the world. I think that’s a sensation shared by most small vendors – we’re doing something for the world.”
Be sure to come by our stores next week (April 25 – May 1) with your coupon to get your free container of Sonoma Brinery’s fresh bread & butter pickles. We have the other two varieties on our shelves too. Might as well pick up all the fixin’s for that pastrami sandwich or pulled pork slider while you’re at it!