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On Sunday afternoon, I headed over to the Hands-On Homegrown Workshops to attend Kelly McVicker's workshop highlighting the basics of pickling. Kelly is the owner of McVicker Pickles based in San Francisco. She sells pickles, mustards, and a bacon jam, and also offers workshops on a regular basis. Through her craft, she channels her grandmother's spirit. When teaching, she wears her grandmother's homemade apron. Her pickles are innovative and delicious, she carries varieties from dill pickles to spicy dilly beans to pickled beets, grapes, and more!
McVicker taught the basics of both vinegar pickling and fermentation pickling. Both of the pickles she made were refrigerator pickles, not intended to be stored on the shelf. She started with the vinegar method, pickling grapes in a brine of apple cider vinegar, garlic, chili peppers, and spices. She then moved onto the fermentation method, pickling carrot slices with dill, chili peppers, garlic, and pickling spice.
The workshop at Maker Faire was a perfect introduction course for pickling first timers, and also a great learning opportunity for those that had experience in the culinary field. Sitting at my work station was a boy of maybe 8 with his father, and 2 lovely women who were first time picklers. I came home with my carrot slices fermenting away and a jar of McVicker's Spicy Dilly Beans, perfect for a Bloody Mary. A few days later, my carrot pickles were ready to store in the refrigerator.
Since I didn't get a chance to vinegar brine grapes, I chose to test my new knowledge on some cherries I picked up at the farmer's market. Using McVicker's ratio for the vinegar brine, I spiced my cherries with ginger, star anise, mustard and peppercorns. To see my full recipe, ingredient amounts, and method, please head over to my Sweet and Spicy Pickled Cherries recipe.