Kelle McFarland and Daniel Boyer are the duo behind the new pickling and preserves company The French Pickl'er (www.frenchpicklerpreserves.com). McFarland spoke to Gambit about the company's pickling philosophy, working seasonally and home pickling tips.
How did you begin pickling?
McFarland: Daniel and I met about three years ago at a restaurant called a Mano (now closed), and he was cooking there and began pickling. We were always getting these very fresh ingredients from places like Covey Rise Farms, and there were also a lot of great meats. Daniel learned how to pickle these vegetables to go with the meat plates. When we both moved on, Daniel kept pickling and we started getting involved with a guy who also came from a Mano and opened up a coffee shop called Avenue Cafe. We helped put the menu together and put the pickles on the menu. So, we've been doing wholesale there for quite a while.
Part of the wholesale thing at Avenue Cafe also includes jams and jellies, because the shop had a lot of bagels and people were interested in that as well, so we started doing those around the same time.
What are your favorite pickles?
M: We really like making marmalades because the citrus is so nice here in New Orleans during the wintertime. We're doing a lot of kumquat and satsumas right now. We mainly like to focus on the seasonality of things. Right now, we're doing winter pickle mixes with cauliflower and Romanesco. Seasonality is a very cool thing to try and preserve.
We're still doing wholesale, as well as a small retail section. When the French Market farmers market opened up, it was a really cool opportunity for us to get our product out there on a weekly basis, and we want more markets as space becomes available. We wanted to take it very slow and do it right and not try to expand too quickly.
Any tips for home pickling?
M: Daniel really focuses on salting the vegetables once you cut them. He swears by salting all the vegetables then rinsing them, and that really helps maintain the freshness of the pickles without any preservatives. We don't like to use any preservatives or anything; it's just salt and sugar and spices.