Pickling may be the borough’s latest hipster craze, but one of New York’s famed briners is moving to Brooklyn with a 90-year-old recipe she claims is healthier than the newfangled pickles sold only blocks away.
Old-school brine-mistress Pat Fairhurst, the proprietor the legendary Guss’ Pickles stand in Manhattan, moved her barrels to Clinton Hill and is preserving the gherkin as it once was — by fermenting her cucs in a tried and true salt-water solution once favored by Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century.
“These days, people want more natural food,” said Fairhurst, who maintains the tradition of the pickles-sellers of yore by peddling them out of barrels on the sidewalk with her son Roger. “I ferment my pickles — and fermented food is good for you.”
Fairhurst is banking on the fact that the process of fermentation, during which helpful bacteria eat the sugars in the cucumbers making them technically “alive” and in need of refrigeration, will elevate her pickles to the popularity enjoyed by other “live” products like kombucha and kim chi.
In contrast, Brooklyn’s new class of pickles — and peppers, string beans and fiddlehead ferns — are shelf-stable after being preserved in vinegar, and without all the good stuff.
Plus, they’re expensive.
“I don’t really understand [the expensive prices],” said Fairhurst, who made the move to Brooklyn after being priced out of the Lower East Side — where the shop had been since 1920 — and still sell her sells her cucs for $6 a quart. “Picking isn’t rocket science. It’s just salt-water and garlic!”
Clinton Hill Pickles [431 DeKalb Ave. at Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill, (212) 334-3616]Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg