My grandma was an amazing cook. As an immigrant from Europe, she brought the word “feast” to a whole different level when it came to holiday gatherings. She spent days before the event in the kitchen preparing her home-grown veggies, and side dishes. When we sat down at the table there was more food than our small(ish) family could ever hope to consume in a week.
I always scanned the table for one dish. The pickled peaches. And when I saw them, I’d have to prepare myself for the dish that I just couldn’t ever learn to love. They were a strange combination of sweet and spicy to my young mouth. The juice was syrupy, with cloves and the occasional cinnamon stick floating in the bowl, as well as some of the general pickling spices. It was an anticipated favorite with my father and uncle, but everyone else sort of just dutifully ate one. As my cousins, sister and I grew older (there are just four of us, all girls) we all shared in the joy of bringing boyfriends to these meals and plopping a giant helping of the pickled peaches on their plates. Everyone watched as they tried them, and it was, in a sense, a right of passage for them. If they could swallow a few they were stamped “ok” and if they couldn’t…..well, there was a short exchange between grandpa and grandma in German and a “look”. Needless to say, my boyfriend, (now my husband) was able to ask for seconds and was warmly welcomed into the family.
When my grandma passed away a few years ago, the family picked jars of their favorite canned items from her fully stocked cupboard. My dad and uncle evenly divided the pickled peaches, rationed them for months, and mourned the last jar as it was eaten. We all looked for a recipe for those peaches, but never found one. So there will never be an answer as to what exactly made up that odd, yet comforting staple to the holiday dinner table. All we have is the memory of that unique pickled peach.
Kendra and Baron started a business based on memories of their childhood pickle experiences, and through trial and error, they have created a company that is a successful endeavor. Go and sample their huge array of products next time you see them at a patchwork show!
please introduce yourself.
Hello from this Mississippi gal, Kendra, and English chap, Baron. We’ve been avid lovers of pickles since our mums first slathered Chow-Chow and Piccalilli on our school lunch sandwiches. Now living in Southern California, we were surprised to not find any locally made pickles in our neighborhood shops so we spent the 15 months perfecting our favorite recipes, garnering the many required state licenses, setting up shop, and Pernicious Pickling Co. was born. Pernicious actually launched in October 2013 at the Patchwork Edible Show in Costa Mesa – we still remember the excited butterflies when that first customer stopped at our booth, sampled a pickle, then bought a jar! Today we have 10 varieties of pickled vegetables – all with bold flavors inspired by our homelands and the richly diverse culture of Southern California.
what do you make or do?
We have an ever-expanding range of pickles, jams and jellies – ranging from Pickled Dilly Beets to Pickled Ginger Carrots to Habanero Orange Mint Jelly.
where can we find your creations?
https://www.perniciouspickling.com as well as 22 brick & mortars, online shops, and restaurants
Twitter & Instagram: @PerniciousPikls
is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
Pernicious means “to harm in a gradual or subtle way” which is the perfect description of pickling. We take this beautiful, fresh produce and marinate it in a vinegar brine until it’s perfectly pickled. (We’re also suckers for alliteration!)
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
When not in the kitchen, we love being outside, taking little road trips to explore new areas, eating and drinking with the locals – we are always on the lookout for exciting new flavor combinations and delicious cocktails.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
In the beginning, it was quite difficult learning how to translate our home canning hobby into a commercial business. To legally manufacture and sell shelf-stable pickles (meaning non-refrigerated pickles) in California – whether direct to consumer or wholesale – one must have a Cannery License, which requires a plethora of training, sub-licenses, written procedures and record-keeping, recipe approvals, and monthly inspections by the California Food & Drug Bureau. Yet there are very few people, either with the state or entrepreneurs, who actually know or understand the steps needed for a small business like ours. It took months of learning bits here and there, then connecting the dots. Plus, at every corner, we had folks telling us that we would fail – folks actually meant to be counseling us to success. But we believed in ourselves and our products, so we gleaned what advice we could, put our heads down, and pushed forward.
where do you find inspiration?
Louis Pasteur said, “Chance only favors the prepared mind” and we are true believers of this. We find inspiration everywhere – a Thai curry dish at a favorite restaurant inspires a new flavor combination, gravlax at a Swedish bar leads to a new way of using our Pickled Beets, a drive through Sonoma influences how we speak about our brand, and the list goes on. I think it goes for all creative small business owners that when you love what you do and are dedicated to its’ success, you look at the world through rose – or, in our case, pickle-colored- glasses.
We also love reading about other entrepreneurs and their triumphs, trials and tribulations. A few favorites:
· Cooking Up A Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career by Rachel Hofstetter
· Mission In A Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently – and Succeeding by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff
· Starting a Part-time Food Business by Jennifer Lewis
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
(1) Ask for advice and perspective, but take everything with a grain of salt. You know your business and capabilities better than anyone else.
(2) Know the market and find a niche. What makes your product different/better/interesting?
(3) Get your product in front of people by taking advantage of the food/craft shows in your area. In California, we’re very lucky to have such amazing events as Patchwork Show, Unique LA/SF, Artisanal LA, Renegade Craft Fair LA/SF as well as the Good Food Awards and Winter Fancy Food Show.
(4) Your brand is everything. Every decision you make should be based around “is this good for the brand?” whether it’s participating in an event, taking a class, partnering with another company, introducing a new product, photography, social media post, etc.