Friday, October 31, 2008

My pickle cart

(O glorious pickle cart)


Here's my pickle cart... or is it one word?- picklecart? I ferment vegetables with salt and water in these crocks. After two weeks or so when the fermenting is finished, I preserve most of the finished product with vinegar for long-term storage- a jar or two of the live stuff sometimes goes in the fridge so we can get the live-culture benefits. If I had a really big fridge (which I don't want) or a root cellar (which I do want), I wouldn't need to vinegar-can any of the finished product- they could live out their glorious, delicious lives in the brine. But alas. Condos and root cellars, never the twain shall meet.

These lovely old crocks range in size from about 3 to 5 gallons. Aren't they beautiful? Old crocks are everywhere, but they are usually cracked or pitted inside. These, freakishly, have beautiful interior finishes. It's amazing to me when something old and well-used makes it through a century or more, basically unscathed. On some of the handles, you can even see the potter's fingerprints. So pretty.

Not to go all Martha here, but I'd so much rather use these salt-glazed wonders instead of "food-grade" plastic buckets. Who knows what freaky chemical weirdness might be released in a plastic bucket during the magical brine bath? They weren't free like all the pickle buckets out there, but I love them very much. And what else do I buy, really? Yarn; the occasional knitting tool; fiber for spinning; books; garden stuff; and canning jars. I'm a pretty cheap date. If a somewhat Luddite date.

The metal cart is from a junk shop in downtown Detroit. Why this cart would have a stamped "patent pending" metal label on it, I have no idea, but that clever patent-worthy bit is long disappeared. The wheels are stiff, and I've found out the crappy finish can't withstand brine (it's rusting in a most interesting way), but it was 20 bucks and it's built like a tank. And these four very heavy crocks, which I can barely lift when full of water and veg, fit perfectly on it. I scoot it in and out of our very tiny closet to keep it in the shade and out of the way.

My husband is gently urging me to try and make a small business out of my fermenting and pickling. While I do seem to have a latent pickling gene, I have zero idea where to start on a mountain of an endeavor like that. Don't you need a commercial kitchen? And, um, licenses? And good knees for all the standing?- (one really big day of pickling, and honestly, it hurts to walk the next day). And any inspector would take a look at the giant freaking worm bin at the other end of my dining room and gape and gasp in germy horror. But folks who've tried my kraut and pickles think I may be onto something here. I get a lot of wordless "yummmmm"s and "oooohh"s and "ahhhhh"s. Their eyes really light up. It makes me gloriously happy.

Anyone know how to go about it?


d. moll, said...

Sister of the Ferment, I have 2 krauts bubbling away, one is one "commission". A couple of sources to check out and see what other fermenters are doing would be the ads in the Price -Pottenger Journal ( and the Weston A. Price Foundation journal, called Wise Traditions. I think I'm going to the West coast WAPF conference next Sunday, there are exhibitors...will check out if there are fermenters and what they are doing. I've done a couple fermenting commissions and considered selling sort of subscriptions. All very low key and under the radar.

Rabbits' Guy said...

"Pickle" Parties?

Rabbits' Guy said...

By the way Pickler ... if D. Moll and me get our heads together on this pickling caper you better watch out .... Stuck up Bunnies aint seen nothing yet!!!

Carolyn said...

I love the crocks!

ilex said...

Thank you kindly, Ms. Moll. I'd appreciate any further info. I will go to the site.

Rabbit saint, if I've never said it before, I'll say it now: you're a genius.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Thank you ...

You will need some kind of license .. maybe make one up, a fancy script certificate with appropriate foreign type words and names ..

Then you need a trade name and I suggest also something foreign-sounding that is sort of generic for pickles.

A website of course.

Are there pickle blogs to get to be a part of? You will need a "platform" but not until you have your name and license.

Maybe just set up a stand outside of the Tiger Baseball stadium or the U of M stadium.

d. moll, said...

I say put rabbits on your label.

Crafty Green Poet said...

these are wonderful crocks,

I think rabbits on the label would be a good idea too, if you did try to make a business

Leslie said...

If you want to make a big official business, then what kind of licensing you need will vary depending on your location. I know here in central WV you have to make your stuff in an "approved kitchen" and NO WAY am I letting anyone see the horror that is my kitchen.

But you'd be surprised... they apparently have a checklist and as long as you meet the requirements they don't care. Like the bathroom has to have a door that closes. You have to have hot and cold running water. If worm bin is not on their checklist, they won't care about it.

Or, you can do small non-business trade. Barter, or sell your jars for $5 apiece and fill them with pickles as a courtesy.

I love your writing. I had to look up Luddite; I'd heard it but didn't know the meaning. Any time someone writes brilliantly and improves my vocabulary, well, they're a keeper.

Leslie said...

Oh, yeah. Call your county extension agent to ask about what you'd need to do if you wanted to legally sell pickles. They may not be the ones to ask, but they'll know who is.

plantainpatch said...

Your crocks are beautiful. Love the pickle cart!