The Brooklyn food renaissance recently welcomed another local producer to its ranks with the addition of Brooklyn Brine, a pickling operation based in the burgeoning neighborhood of Greenpoint. Founded in August by Josh Egnew and Shamus Jones, with the recent addition of vegan blogger Joya Carlton, critics are already singing the new brand's praises for its spirited approach to preserving.
From early-spring delectables like ramps and garlic scapes to late-harvest roots like turnips and winter radishes, this trio of self-proclaimed food nerds will pickle anything they can get grown locally and delivered fresh. "We never met a vegetable we didn't like," Carlton told us at a recent meeting.
Through a partnership with the regional distributor Angello's, they get their pick of produce from a variety of farms outside the city. Orders are delivered regularly to the Greenpoint's bustling brunch spot, Brooklyn Label, whose kitchen (through the generosity of Label owner Lynde McCormick) serves as Brooklyn Brine's processing facility in the after hours. It's not the easiest of arrangements—they get started with prep around 11:30pm and sometimes don't finish until 8:30 the next day—but so far it's produced fantastic results.
Egnew, Jones and Carlton pride themselves on choice ingredients (evaporated cane sugar; snow powdery sea salt) and creating unconventional pickling flavors, like curried squash or chipotle carrots. Using tanin-rich leaves in the process, like grape or horseradish, helps their veggies stay crisp and reduces the amount of salt required in the brine.
Ingredients notwithstanding, an intuitive sense of what spices and vegetables will make a happy marriage really sets Brooklyn Brine apart from their peers. The fennel beets have a tenderness, a delicate balance of sweet and sour rarely associated with a pickled root. Hints of cumin, coriander and mustard seed all commingling comfortably make the Moroccan beans exotic yet familiar. And while the aforementioned curried squash emphasizes the curry, the pairing left me intrigued to see what the trio will come up with next.
With winter just around the corner, Brooklyn Brine will be busying itself with root vegetables for months to come. While esteemed local establishments such as Bedford Cheese Shop, Marlow & Daughters and Urban Rustic already carry their pickles, Angello's will soon export vegetables preserved the Brooklyn Brine way to foodies outside the city. But don't expect to see these jars on Midwest or West Coast shelves any time soon; true to their locavore roots, Brooklyn Brine is happy—and busy—enough with the size of their operation. This ain't no Vlasic.