I have always loved a good pickle. When I was five, my brothers and I got “Tucker’s Cukes” t-shirts, with a cheerful regiment of happy pickles marching into the future, and I swear I wore that shirt until the wind blew the tattered shreds off my bony frame. When I travel, other people pick up local wines, I shop for local pickles.
So I am happy to report that I have discovered one of the finest pickle I have tasted in many, many years in the most unlikely of places: Tweedy and Popp Hardware in Wallingford Center (1815 N 45th St).
Yes, a hardware store. I’m not 100% sure why Tweedy and Popp carries pickles. They don’t carry any other food items. I thought I had heard there was some college connection with Greg, the pickle maker, but a look at Trü’s web site suggests that there is some general hardware store connection: you can find them at about a dozen hardware stores around the Puget Sound region.
Sharp and tangy, Trü’s kosher dills are splendid. Their skins crack when you bite into them and an explosion of vinegar and heat burst into your mouth. Not too much salt, just a full, pickle-forward flavor. That may be because they’re made with tannin-rich grape leaves, rather than sulfites, to keep them crispy and green, and the ingredients list is simple and natural: fresh cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, garlic, peppers, grape leaves, dill seed. That’s it. No calcium chloride, no sodium benzoate, no polysorbate 80. Just food.
According to their website (and label), the true story of Trü pickles is exactly what you’d hope it would be:
In the 1900s, many immigrants from all parts of the world came to the United States and brought family recipes to use in the New Country. Greg Skufca’s great grandmothers were no different. One brought with her the recipe for bootleg liquor and built a still in her kitchen. (That’s another story). The other great grandmother brought all her canning knowledge with her.
Most recipes were not written down and were passed on to the next generation by hands on example… from Greg’s grandmother, to his father and ultimately to himself. One big difference was that Greg wrote down the recipes, amount of ingredients and the process. Greg would grow all his own produce and can what he could for his friends and family and there was one item that always stood out…the pickles. After 25 years in the business world, Greg needed something more to do. He decided he wanted more people to taste his pickles.
I’ve only tried the kosher dills, because I’m sort of a purist that way, but they’ve got a few other flavors as well.
I should say again that these are one of the finest pickles I’ve tasted in a long while. The finest pickle, in my opinion, is Britt’s Half-Sour pickles. They are sublime: light, crisp, sour with just a hint of natural sweetness straight from the pickle (no sugar added).
The problem with Britt’s Half-Sour is exactly what makes them so good: they’re live culture fermented for just one week. That means that if she tried to sell them in the grocery stores, by by the time you pulled them off the shelf, they would have progressed to become her (also tasty, but, in my opinion, less so) more acidic full sour pickles. So the only place I’ve ever been able to buy the Half-Sours are at the Wallingford and Ballard Farmer’s Market, and then only in cucumber season.
Honestly, Britt’s Half-Sour pickles are 95% of the reason I make it to the Wallingford Farmers Market on any given week.
But it’s winter, so no half-sours until summer 2018. In the meantime, the best pickle you’ll find in Seattle can be had at Tweedy and Popp: Trü’s original kosher dills.
If you know of a better pickle in this town, tell me. I will tell you whether that brine is fine!