Anyone who loves pickles knows that not all pickles are the same. There are dilly spears, spicy cukes, pickled beets, cornichons, cocktail onions and many more.
In fact, local artisans also make pickle products that don’t resemble a pickle at all, but still maintain the puckering punch associated with the food. Here are some of the best, unique and downright delicious ways to get your pickle on for National Pickle Day on Monday, Nov. 14 (or any day thereafter).
Bloody Mary Mix from The Real Dill
Justin Park and Tyler Dubois decided to go into business as The Real Dill in 2012 after Park’s homemade pickles were a huge hit at his wedding. Now, The Real Dill sells its three types of pickles nationwide (jalapeno honey, caraway garlic, and habanero horseradish), as well as some seasonal offerings, Bloody Mary mixes and hot sauce.
The Bloody Mary mix is the most popular item the Denver-based company makes, and it started as a happy accident in 2016.
“We are very conscious of our food waste and environmental impact,” marketing manager Lindsey Hornstein said. “We soak the cucumbers in a saltwater solution to keep them crunchy, and we realized we were throwing that good cucumber-infused water away, so we decided to make a Bloody Mary mix using that liquid.”
Although many think the Bloody Mary mix is made with pickle brine, it’s actually a mixture of cucumber water and pickling spices that give it that essence. The trick, the owners revealed, is using tomato paste in the concoction instead of juice.
This past October, The Real Dill released a second Bloody Mary mix, the extra spicy, which packs three times the heat as the original. And, even though technically there is no pickle in the mix, all the components of pickle making are there. The drink is even better when you add a spear for garnish. Find The Real Dill pickles and mixer at grocery shops around town and online.
Pickle Patch at the Mile High Flea Market
Pickle lovers listen up: As of early October, one of the best places to get pickles is the Pickle Patch at the Mile High Flea Market, 7007 E. 88th Ave., in Henderson. The stand features an array of ways to enjoy preserved foods, from house-made pickles to cocktails to pickle sandwiches, which are exactly that: pickle halves instead of bread stuffed with meat, cheese and lettuce. And yes, they are delicious.
It’s not just cucumbers that get the special treatment. Choose from pickled eggs, an Indian mango pickle, pickled spiced almonds and pickle-flavored chips. There’s even pickle cotton candy that, oddly enough, does taste like a fluffy sweet dill spear. The pickle cocktails shouldn’t be skipped, either. The Spicy Surfer tastes like a margarita high on pickle juice, and the Bloody Mary tastes a bit like a savory sangria thanks to the use of wine and spices instead of spirits.
Overall, the stand offers more than 20 ways to enjoy a pickle. Some, like the Kool-Aid pickle, change each week. Get a jumbo pickle on a stick or spears and chips in a pint container. Eat while wandering the flea market or take some home for later. It’s a one-stop shop for all your pickle needs, even the ones you didn’t know you had.
Pickle Shots by Dirty Dill
Pickles and booze go really well together, so there’s a reason a shot of whiskey with a pickle “back” has become so popular. It was this combo that gave Warren Wood, Colton Mortag and Daniel Graves the idea to box the sensation and create Dirty Dill, a vodka-based drink mixed with pickle brine.
Choose between the original dill and caribe pepper flavors, the latter a bit spicy. Each comes in a 750-mil. container with a spout, much like boxed wine, and runs around $20 each. Find Dirty Dill in many local liquor stores using the handy finder on the website, dirtydill.com.
Pro tip: Keep the box in the fridge for a cool shot any time the pickle mood hits.
Pickled Mushrooms at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
While you can’t find chef Sheila Lucero’s pickled mushrooms on grocery-store shelves, you can try them at any of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar‘s five Colorado locations in Glendale, LoDo, Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.
“We pickle beech mushrooms with tamari sauce, sherry vinegar, ginger root and sugar,” said Lucero. “The brightness in flavor is unique and I think it is unexpected when the guest eats it with the salmon dish.”
The hardest part about pickling the mushrooms, she added, comes in keeping them uniform and removing stems. But once done, the smooth acidity of the pickle helps cut the richness of the fatty fish and miso butter potatoes. Jax also makes a pickled mustard seed, the main ingredient in its remoulade.
Garlic Dill Pickle Popcorn Seasoning by Savory Spice
Get the flavor of a tasty pickle on top of buttery popcorn with this easy-to-use shaker can of spice. While dill seed, dill weed and garlic powder give the blend the essence of pickle goodness, it’s the vinegar powder that really makes it. A little cayenne and black pepper round out the flavor, and once you start sprinkling it on your movie night bowl of popcorn, you may never go back.
Each three-ounce can runs $10.99 and can be bought locally at Savory Spice locations or online.
Pickle Fries at Alamo Drafthouse
The pickle fries at Alamo Drafthouse used to be a special. But, because of the popularity of the dish, the company made it a permanent fixture. Which is lucky for us, because each lightly breaded strip of pickle marries the tart bite of the cuke with a warm, comforting kick that comes thanks to the deep fryer.
Served with ranch, the pickle fries pair perfectly with whatever movie is playing on the big screen. Each order runs $11.95, and can be had at all three Colorado locations of Alamo Drafthouse (Littleton, Sloan’s Lake and Westminster).
14er Brewing Co.
The Denver Michelada is a pickle-inspired beer that 14er Brewing, 3120 Blake St., makes in tandem with The Real Dill. It’s a farmhouse ale flavored with cucumber-infused water, a lot of dill, horseradish, garlic and habaneros. While it’s not pickled per se, it does bring maximum pickle flavor. The brew is light, refreshing and unique. Find it at the brewery and beer garden to sip there or take it to go.
Need more pickle beers? 4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield, Spangalang Brewing in Denver and Bootstrap Brewing in Longmont all make their own versions, which are available seasonally.
Oak at Fourteenth
While chef Steve Redzikowski’s Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, 1400 Pearl St., in Boulder, is known for fine dining and elevated seasonal fare, it also has a great pickle program, namely the spread made to accompany the Korean barbecue pork shoulder. The meal serves three to five people, and includes six pickled vegetables on the side, all sourced from local farms.
“The pork is super rich, so having a variety of pickles helps cut the richness of the meat,” Redzikowski said. “When produce comes into season, we try to capture and highlight as much produce as possible, which bleeds into our pickled products.”
On a given day, the spread can include pickled soy cucumbers, sesame blistered tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, cold pickle Fresno radish, carrot kimchi and seasoned spinach. The whole team at the restaurant works to create the pickles, and, the chef added, one of the most interesting and delicious options was created by a sous chef using Jimmy Nardello peppers that were blistered on the grill before getting pickled in soy sauce and vinegar.
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