For some people, pickles are simply a tasty condiment to go with a picnic spread, chucked into a cheeseburger or chased after a shot of whiskey.
For others, they’re a lifestyle, which brings us to Gary Ausbruch AKA inabitofapickle – the world’s first site for pickled cucumber reviews and ratings, based right here in Perth!
If you fall in the latter category and take your pickles seriously, Gary’s website is a fantastic resource to ensuring your pick your pickles wisely, or getting into the process of pickling yourself with one of his giftsets:
We asked him for five of the best local suppliers of God’s briney nectar – learn a little more about Gary, along with who those five fine pickle purveyors are, below:
The main reason I started inabitofapickle was to build an online reference where people can go to for advice on pickles. So, like how a wine or whisky website would review and rate different products, I do a thorough test and take tasting notes and match pickles to foods or occasions.
In a similar vein to wine varieties, I have the Pickle Flavour Universe, which classifies pickles according to their ingredients and manufacturing process, and a set of criteria that I use to assign an overall score:
- Presentation: A pickled cucumber should look appetising and attractive. It should have colour, life and sheen, and not be dull or grey.
- Flavour: Flavours will vary depending on the type of pickled cucumber, but in general, it should have a balance of flavours, with additional ingredients complementing rather than overpowering the core flavours.
- Crunch: A pickled cucumber should make a pleasing and resounding crunching noise when bitten into. It shouldn’t feel soft or mushy in the mouth.
I had the idea initially because I noticed that many pickles were made in India (which is not necessarily always a bad thing – some of them are still very good) and/or had artificial ingredients added, so I wanted to show that there are better pickles out there, even in the supermarkets. There are also some local artisans producing some very high quality pickles, but you need to know where to find them so you can support them and keep the pickling community thriving!
Which leads me to five great pickles that are locally made in WA. I haven’t rated them as they’re all great products and my aim is to highlight rather than critique them – check out their websites for where to find them:
The Pickled Wife’s Spiced Cucumbers
I was intrigued when I first tasted these Manjimup-made pickles. There’s a mix of spices in there that produces a flavour that’s a bit hard to put your finger on. It’s almost as if there’s a touch of chilli or curry powder, but these pickles aren’t hot. You can certainly taste the sweetness of the sugar, but they’re not overly sweet either.
What it all adds up to is a really unique combination of flavours, and one I don’t think I’ve ever tasted in a pickle. Slightly spicy, kinda sweet and a little tart – but overall delicious. These pickles also have a really nice texture and lend themselves well to eating as part of a charcuterie board with some sharp cheeses and cold meats.
RICKLES PICKLES’ Dill Crinkles
These are also “down south” pickles, using cucumbers sourced from the fertile fruit and vegetable growing soils of Donnybrook. I love the way these pickles are presented – having been through the crinkle cutter they look ready for a photo-worthy burger or cold meat sandwich. You can tell they use locally sourced cucumbers for these pickles because they’re super crunchy – a sign that there wasn’t much time between harvesting and pickling!
What stands out with these Rickles Pickles is that they pack a punch in terms of flavour. The brine is a combination of white and apple cider vinegar, meaning the pickles have a really sharp, tart taste, but the taste profile is still very well balanced by garlic, spices and just a touch of sweetness.
Coogee Common’s Pickled Cucumber
The artisanal producers at Makers in Common doubtlessly need no introduction to Perth audiences, with their Coogee Common venue in particular offering a genuine garden to table dining experience. So, it’s pretty clear when you buy a jar of Coogee Common pickled cucumbers you’re reaping the benefits of 1. people who know what they’re doing and 2. locally sourced produce from the Coogee garden.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ingredients on a pickle jar, and in the wrong hands this could be a disaster! But somehow, they make it work. There are subtle notes of sweetness from tomato and a zing of spiciness from cumin and ginger, and overall they’ve produced a really easy to eat pickle.
The Mulberry Pig’s Bread and Butter Pickles
It’s said that bread and butter pickles got their name from the 1930s depression era meal of thinly sliced up pickled cucumbers between two slices of buttered bread. And they’ve been around ever since; bread and butter pickles are now a staple ingredient in everything from sandwiches to burgers to salads. And The Mulberry Pig’s are some of the best you’ll find.
They typically have a zingy and sweet rather than tart flavour, and these locally made pickles are a great example of the genre. They’re packed full of onion and you can taste just a hint of clove. I typically like to pair the sweetness of bread and butter pickles with the bold flavour of a vintage cheddar, where the two competing taste profiles complement each other perfectly.
Dr Paul’s Dill Pickles
Dr Paul is best known for his range of hot sauces, all produced locally in Guildford. He’s recently launched a line of pickles, and you guessed it, they’re spicy, with a red chilli floating ominously in the brine! But this isn’t a “blow your head off” type of heat. The pickles have a great balance of flavours, with the heat complementing rather than overpowering the dill and other spices.
They look fantastic too, with the brine exploding with fresh herbs and spices. These would certainly brighten up a boring old salad, or be right at home added to a burger for some extra firepower!
Header Image Credit: RICKLES PICKLES