Westlake-based Barrel Creek Provisions distributes its products to more than 400 retailers across 20 states.
The pickling company purposes old-world, traditional pickling methods to preserve food as an alternative to the common method of using vinegar and heat.
“We use salt water brine with wonderful spices,” co-founder Adam Blumenshein said. “The process requires really fresh vegetables and time. As a result, you don’t just get a preserved product. The fermenting process actually enhances the nutrients available in the vegetable; it’s probiotic- and prebiotic-rich.”
Blumenshein and fellow founder Tim Klatt also started Strangeland Brewery. They were renting space from the owners of the Hat Creek Burger Co., who had a great burger but were looking for a better pickle, according to Blumenshein.
They knew he had a background in food preservation and reached out to him about pickling.
“One of the restaurants had some space available and let us do a little test,” Blumenshein said. “It was quite successful, and we started supplying all of the locations with sauerkraut and pickles. Then Whole Foods came knocking, and we started putting our stuff in a jar.”
That was 2014. Today Barrel Creek Provisions ferments more than 10,000 pounds of vegetables in a month, including sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, carrots and okra. Locally, products can be purchased at Wheatsville Food Co-Op as well as at Whole Foods and an assortment of small retailers.
All cultures–particularly non-Western ones–have a long, rich history of consuming vegetables and beverages in probiotic form, Blumenshein said. Probiotics boost the immune system, and 80 percent of them live in the digestive tract.
While the health benefits of fermented foods are plentiful, flavors and textures are also enhanced, Blumenshein said.
“When you cook a vegetable and add vinegar, it keeps a strong vinegar flavor profile, and the vegetable no longer has its natural crunch,” he said. “We call our pickle a cucumber, because it’s like a cucumber. It’s never been cooked or heavily doused with a chemical like vinegar. It’s just water and salt, so it maintains all its natural cucumber characteristics.”