"When Atlanta’s Municipal Market opened its doors in 1924, most households canned whatever fruit and vegetables they couldn’t use right away, most bread came from home ovens, not bakeries, and most relishes and jams were the product of home kitchens. The skills to produce those foods kept families fed.
In the almost century the market’s been open, those skills have slowly faded away.
Ready to reinvigorate what she calls the “lost arts,” this year Lyn Deardorff and her husband Tom launched The Teaching Kitchen at the Municipal Market. Lyn is the butter, condiment, jam and pickle maker while Tom handles bread. Other instructors teach fermenting, cheese making, dehydrating, soap making and other classes including those for kids."
Here are some restaurants around Atlanta who have mastered the "lost art" of pickling.
Hampton + Hudson
“I feel like all chefs have some form of love for pickling. I personally love adding pickled items to dishes to not only to enhance the flavor profile but to add texture to a dish. For example, I add pickles strawberries to my seasonal salad at Hampton and Hudson to add a slight sweet and tangy flavor to cut through the goat cheese and to counter the spicy peanuts. And because I pickled the strawberries it gives them a softer texture allowing the crunch of the peanut to come through," said Savannah Sasser, executive chef of Hampton + Hudson.
"I also love doing different pickled items that you don’t always see. Like our smoked pickled vegetables, you get this tangy bright flavor with a hint of smoke, it goes so well with both our duck jerky and chicken live pate. And then of course just eating a well-executed pickle can make any sandwich plate. So my love pickling can be seen through all of my menu at Hampton and Hudson.”
299 N. Highland Avenue, Atlanta. 404-948-2123. hamptonandhudson.com
Holeman & Finch Public House
Spencer Gomez, chef de cuisine of Holeman & Finch Public House, is passionate about the culinary art of pickling. He finds it’s a strategic approach to preservation, allowing the use of seasonal ingredients, even if it’s in its off-season. His pickling projects of ramps, strawberries and fiddleheads bring additional creativity to his impressive whole-vegetable philosophy.
He, along with Restaurant Eugene chef Chris Edwards, believes strongly in not letting any element of an ingredient go to waste – and preserving ingredients so they can be used later in the year as a pickled version of itself. If you find yourself with a plethora of one ingredient and don’t think you have a use for it all – you can pickle it.
2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-948-1175. holeman-finch.com
Leon’s Full Service
Executive Chef Jeff Sellers has been part of the Leon's Full Service team for eight years, since the day it opened its doors. In those eight years, Sellers has worked to elevate the kitchen program that includes its charcuterie board along with preserving and fermentation methods in the kitchen. One of the mottos at Leon's is, "The farmer does all the hard work, and it's our job to preserve, present and serve it in its simplest of form but with depth of flavor."
Pickling allows the team to create that depth of flavor while preserving the fruits and vegetables for use in winter months. Typically you can find options like pickled peaches, fermented cabbage or preserved strawberries in a cocktail, or on an entree. Some current items include pickled ramps, beer sauerkraut, green strawberry kimchi, fermented pineapple and cabbage, and more.
131 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur. 404-687-0500. leonsfullservice.com
One Eared Stag
“We've been pickling since day one, it’s a tradition that’s been passed down to me from my grandmother. The art of taking a product at its peak and allowing it to age to be used at a later time is not just a hobby it’s a necessity. Allowing us to use tomatoes in the winter or winter squash in the summer. At the moment we are pickling rhubarb, strawberries, fennel, asparagus and celery amongst other things. Summers bounty is just starting and this is definitely our pickling season. Most if not all of our projects are on display throughout the restaurant for everyone to see. Everything that is seen is used on a daily bases to provide balance in our dishes as we such for that perfect bite,” says chef Robert Phalen.
1029 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta. 404-525-4479. oneearedstagatl.com
Restaurant Eugene’s executive chef Chris Edwards believes in the “luxury of thought,” and is passionate about the preservation of highly seasonal ingredients, including ramps and strawberries. Pickling allows Edwards to take simple ingredients and elevate the way they’re prepared and used, and can also change their taste and texture, so each bite is thoughtful and intended.
He often prepares dishes featuring a multitude of versions of one ingredient – pickled, pureed, roasted – you name it - dedicated to honoring the entirety of one single ingredient. Pickling is a way of using every ingredient to its fullest potential, without letting anything go to waste.
2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-355-0321. restauranteugene.com
“I love experimenting with ways to preserve food. Since moving to the South, my interest for it has flourished. I find it inspiring that we are mimicking the methods of past generations and making sure they continue to be appreciated and relevant. It's pretty cool to be able to serve items from more than one season on the same plate, knowing that you are serving and supporting local foods and businesses without exception,” said Nicole Edwards, chef de cuisine at Revival.
129 Church Street, Decatur. 470-225-6770. revivaldecatur.com
“I can simply say that the main reason I feel pickling is so important to any cuisine is the acidic pop or the brightness pickles add to a dish. Pickles are essential to elevating any food. Changing the level of vinegar or sugar or the flavoring component leaves a remarkable fingerprint on the product being pickles," chef Drew Van Leuvan said.
"At Seven Lamps, as our Amuse, we serve each guest a pickle board and whipped creme fraiche. The pickles are a melody of various vegetables, some are in season and some have been canned and stored for a latter use. The creme fraiche is there to cream out the tartness of the pickles. The thought behind this approach to our cuisine was that the pickles will act as an stimulation of the palate. In hopes to get the guests ready to enjoy the foods they are being served. Pickles are so versatile, allowing the cook to put their personal touch onto a dish.”
3400 Wooddale Drive, Atlanta. 404-467-8950. sevenlampsatl.com
Stem Wine Bar
From Patrick Jeffrey: “Pickling takes something with such a brief lifespan, at the height of its season and freshness, and freezes it in time. It tells the story of that time and place. It is for this reason, as well as for the bright and acidic qualities that pickling lends to a dish, that I incorporate pickled items at Stem Wine Bar." The photo shows his pickled beets used in Stem’s Pickled Beet and Strawberry Salad.
1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 678-214-6888. stemwinebar.com
Table & Main
"We pickle for many reasons, not just because a sour punch to a dish rounds out the palate! For one, pickling lets us use every part of a plant or protein — like using the stems of chard, kale and collards. Do a quick pickle on them and you have another seasoning element for your sauces or an inexpensive relish!" chef Woody Back said.
"Pickling also lets us extend the season. Pickling or preserving peaches and other fruits and vegetables allows us to use them in other seasons, preserved in the peak of their ripeness. Other pickles called ‘sours are good for you. By simply adding water and some salt to certain vegetables and fruits, you create a facto fermentation that makes for a good probiotic in your belly.”
1028 Canton Street, Roswell. 678-869-5178. tableandmain.com
The Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe at Parish
"Pickles are all over the menus here, from sandwich pickles for lunch, pickled peppers in our hot sauce served alongside our fried chicken, pickled ramps in our buttermilk dressing, to pickled shrimp served on homemade crackers. I love the all-at-once briny, salty, sweet, spicy thing pickling does," executive chef Stuart Tracy said.
"It’s a great way to not only extend shelf life (fermentation and acidification with proper handling can add months to the shelf life of most produce), but totally change the way you experience whatever it is you are pickling; they will always be a part of what we do here at Parish.”
240 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta. 404-681-4434. parishatl.com
The General Muir and Yalla
Chef Todd Ginsberg pickles at both The General Muir and Yalla. The cuisines at these two restaurants are quite different -- one influenced by New York Deli and its Ashkenazic history, the other the flavors of the Middle East -- but pickling is a part of both. Despite the different cuisines, Todd's love for pickling apply to both: pickles provide great texture, balance, and acidity to a meal, whether a meaty corned beef sandwich or a smooth bowl of hummus and you can make great use of vegetables that aren't perfect looking, extend their lifespan, and thereby avoid waste of fresh produce. In the photo you see the pickle plate from The General Muir with turnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and of course, cucumbers. The pickles at Yalla are generally green tomatoes, cauliflower and hakurei turnips.
The General Muir, 1540 Avenue Place, Atlanta. 678-9131. thegeneralmuir.com
Yalla, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog Street, Atlanta. yallaATL.com
From chef and owner Hilary White: “I love to pickle for many reasons. Tradition. Memories. Practicality. Fermentation. It’s a tradition at The Hil. I’ve been canning and pickling with my mom and grandmother for years. That has left me with nothing but wonderful memories. When the farmers have surplus, it just makes sense to put it in a jar for leaner times. That’s practical. Fermentation is a scientific process that is a connection with Mother Nature. What I love most about pickling/fermentation is looking at a jar and the reflection of the day that jar was produced. Fermentation is a connection with the earth while within the walls of a kitchen.”
White is also opening Bistro Hilary. “After years of customer requests and developer attempts for additional restaurants, we decided to open Bistro Hilary. It will be a standalone French/American bistro in Senoia with a transparent design, a large front courtyard and a private room and patio. Though not farm-to-table, we will incorporate local farm goods and have a seasonal menu. We'll open sometime this year.”
9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto. 770-463-6040. the-hil.com
Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards
Executive Chef Ryan Burke recently took the helm at Twain's, but he has been an integral part of the team for a while now and incorporates his love of pickling into the everyday menus. According to Burke, he "loves pickling because it is a great way to utilize a product that may have otherwise gone to waste. It also allows me to play with the flavors of the product a little."
Right now Twain's offers its own pickles for burgers and sandwiches, and a blend of root vegetables for the house salad. When participating in special events, Burke will pickle a number of things including green onion to top posole verde, or strawberries for a cardoon soup. One of his favorite things is to pickle something then deep fry it, demonstrating the balance of the acidity of the pickle and the fat. Pictured are pickled watermelon rind as well as green onions.
211 East Trinity Place, Decatur. 404-373-0063. twains.net
Atlanta chef Nick Melvin has been pickling since he was a child in New Orleans. As a chef, he has been able to continue that family tradition, with his own creative touches and share that love with the guests at his restaurants over the years. To share that love with even a greater audience, Nick started his own pickle company, Doux South, in 2013. Today, Doux South produces all sorts of pickled vegetables at their production kitchen in the West End of Atlanta and sells both directly to consumers and to some great restaurants across the Southeast.
For the home chef, the Doux South website has many of Nick’s recipes showing how to incorporate the pickles, and even the brines, into main dishes, dips, spreads, and cocktails. Chef Melvin’s pickling can also be seen at Venkman’s lining the kitchen bar. Melvin says, ““At Venkman’s we pickle everything that we can to preserve the seasons. Right now for example we are busy pickling green strawberries, peaches, baby collards and fermenting chiles for hot sauce and baby pok choy for kimchi.”
740 Ralph McBill Boulevard, Atlanta. 470-225-6162. venkmans.com