Fine artist Jarod Farver has traded in painting for pickles.
The abstract painter tripled his small-batch pickle-making business last month, forcing him out of the art studio full time and into the kitchen. In May, Farver — who’s not the least bit salty about his career shift — will single-handedly prepare 600 jars of his family’s 100-year-old recipe, as well as five-gallon buckets brimming with organic, tangy vegetables that are destined for some of San Diego’s most notable specialty stores and eateries.
Growing up in Topeka, Kansas, both sides of Farver’s family were avid picklers. It wasn’t until a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago that Farver took a stab at making pickles himself. Now, Farv’s Pickles is one of only two businesses of its kind in San Diego.
Farver, 28, specializes in “new pickles,” which is to say they have more of a fresh snap to them than the palate-wrecking, super-sour pickles found in big jars on deli counters. His grandmother’s dill pickle recipe is perfect, missing the garlicky punch to the face of mass-produced pickles. It also calls for equal parts vinegar and water — which preserves the fresh vegetable flavors.
“Everyone told me how good they were over and over, so I kept making them as gifts until a friend who owns a couple of liquor stores in Pacific Beach offered to sell them,” Farver says.
Though his pickles didn’t fly off the shelves, the move was the boost Farver needed to begin shopping his three flavors: the medium-spicy Sunburn San Diego Mix, with peppers, carrots, celery and cauliflower; Hampton Pickle Spears, his grandmother’s original dill recipe, named after her hometown in Nebraska; and Hot Hampton Spears, the same recipe with the addition of hell-fiery habaneros.
Farver dropped off samples to some of his favorite shops, and had little convincing to do. Now he has product at both Bottlecraft locations, Zanzibar Café, Krisp Beverages and Natural Foods, and Specialty Produce — where he sources his ingredients. Soon, the pickles will grace Bloody Marys at Table 926 and The Compass Carlsbad. Farver is also in talks with Jersey Mike’s Subs and Solace & The Moonlight Lounge.
Special orders are available online; Farver will pickle any fruit or vegetable as long as it’s in season. Recently, a client found him on Yelp and hired him to garnish her Bloody Mary party with pickled green beans, cherry tomatoes and spicy carrots.
Quality control is everything, Farver says, adding that his work in the kitchen is much harder than making fine art. While he has preserved his grandmother’s classic dill recipe, perfecting his own has taken time. His own Dirty Blond Ginger Carrots are delicious. Rainbow carrots and ginger get their unique, sweet flavor from a blend of spices, apple cider vinegar and Saint Archer Brewery’s Blonde Ale. Who would have thought?
Yes, Farver has punched up an age-old method of preserving food, but more significantly, the flavors are incredible.
“The beer pickles are different,” Farver says. “But that’s what I’m trying to do — think outside the box. I think these are going to be what blow people’s minds.”
Asian Pickled Watermelon Rind
Makes one 16-ounce mason jar
Inside, white rind of one whole small watermelon, cut into 3-inch strips
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
3 tablespoons sugar
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 pinch pepper flakes
1 pinch sesame seed
2 cups rice vinegar’
2 cups water
Juice of one lime
In one 16-ounce mason jar, add watermelon rind. Mix sugar and all other dry ingredients in a bowl with water and vinegar, and pour over the rind. Seal the jar and refrigerate. Pickled rind will be ready in three days. It’s perfect for any salad or summer barbecue garnish.
Easy Refrigerated Dill Pickles
Makes one 16-ounce mason jar.
3 pickling cucumbers, cut in spears or slices
2 sprigs fresh dill
4 tablespoons sea salt
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped onion
Bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil, and remove from heat. Fill jar with garlic, onion, dill, and cucumbers. Pour the brine into jar. Seal the jar, and refrigerate. Pickles will be ready in seven days.
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who has written about food in San Diego since 2006. Granite enjoys using alternative storytelling approaches in the hopes of not only entertaining readers, but educating them as well. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite. Send your mouth-watering ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.