Picklesburgh returns with a real dilly of a celebration
There's no denying that Pittsburghers have a passion for pickles.
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership proved it last summer, when the organization's first Picklesburgh festival drew more than 75,000 participants, tripling its projected attendance of 25,000 people, according to Leigh White, spokeswoman for the nonprofit composed of local business and community leaders.
This year, the organization is providing more time and space for pickle purveyors and other pickle-themed vendors at the festival that celebrates the city's heritage in pickle manufacturing, dating to the 1800s by the H.J. Heinz Co.
“We're expanding our hours and footprint for the festival to run smoothly,” White says. “Last year, everything took place on the (Rachel Carson) bridge; this year, we've expanded the booths and activities on the Downtown side of the bridge to create less congestion.”
Heinz will launch two new pickle varieties — Sweet ‘N Spicy and Spicy Garlic — the first new ones in 50 years. Visitors at the festival will be asked to taste and vote for their favorite.
“Pickles as a category aren't the ‘cleanest' food, with their corn syrup and artificial coloring,” says Andrew Deckert, marketing representative for Heinz. “Our new pickles contain natural flavors and spices like crushed red pepper in the pickle brine. We're very excited about introducing them in Pittsburgh.”
Zesty pickles in sweet and spicy varieties won't be the only fermented food product to be showcased at the second annual Picklesburgh festival running July 15 and 16. International and homemade foods from area chefs featuring house-cured pickled vegetables will be available for sampling and purchasing. Farm-to-table demonstrations and tips from canning and pickling experts are part of the festivities, along with the return of the pickle-juice drinking contest.
Dave Racicot, chef at Tako, Downtown, will offer his red chilied chicken burritos with pickled salad, along with pickled peaches and watermelon, salsas, street corn and nachos.
“We're super excited,” he says about participating in the festival for the first time.
Urie Byler of Byler's Relish House in Saegertown, Crawford County, will bring a selection of some 40 pickled products, jams and jellies for sale. Their varieties include bread and butter pickles, sweet fire dill pickles, mustard pickles, pickled asparagus, cauliflower medley, pickled beets and hot dilly beans.
He and his wife, Martha, have operated their processing facility since 2001, with help over the years from their 10 children. Urie Byler says they started their business with five recipes given to them from a friend, and it has been a growing operation ever since.
“My wife and I both have Amish and Mennonite backgrounds,” Byler says. “The culture tends to cook more on the sweet, not salty, side.”
Tom LaScola, owner of LaScola's Italian Ice, will be back with his lemon-basil-dill sorbet, made from pureed dill pickles.
“I came up with the recipe last year,” he says. “I thought, what would go good with dill, and it was lemon ice. It turned out great.”
He went through 150 gallons of his sorbet and a sweet gherkin watermelon ice at last year's Picklesburgh.
LaScola, who frequents local farmers markets and events around town selling his Italian ices, says his first brick-and-mortar location is under construction in Highland Park and should open in August.
Liza Betsh, whose Fabulous Homemade Cookies bakery is in Canonsburg, will be selling a variety of taste treats. Included are her recipes for pickled-vegetable cornbread and peanut-butter pickle cookies, which she says were popular at the festival last summer.
She'll have a few new items for sale — butterscotch pretzel pickle cookies, made from a recipe she found in her mother's recipe book, and her grandmother's recipe for sauerkraut brownies.
Betsh had a hard time keeping up with the demand for her cookies at last year's festival, but she plans to start out with 60 dozen cookies on hand.
“People were eating them up,” she says. “I don't want to run out and disappoint people. The community always comes together for these types of events. Any time there's a food festival, Pittsburgh's in.”
Other exhibitors will have fun, pickle-themed merchandise for sale. There will be live musical entertainment throughout both days and a children's area with free activities.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.
“Oven-Fried” Pickle Chips
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1⁄4 cup flour
22 round, buttery crackers, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1 jar (16 ounces) Heinz sweet and spicy pickle chips, drained, patted dry
1⁄4 cup Kraft classic ranch dressing
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk egg in small bowl until blended. Place flour, then cracker crumbs in 2 separate bowls.
Cover rimmed baking sheet with foil. Dip pickle chips, 1 at a time, in flour, then egg, then cracker crumbs, turning to evenly coat both sides of each pickle chip with each ingredient. Place in single layer on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes or until crisp. Serve with dressing.
Makes 10 servings, about 5 pickle chips each.
Nutrition per serving: 80 calories, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 20 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 180 milligrams sodium
Spicy Garlic Pickle Dip
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus refrigerating
1 cup Heinz spicy garlic pickle chips with 1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup Breakstone's sour cream
Chop pickles. Mix with pickle juice and remaining ingredients until blended.
Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Makes 16 servings, 2 tablespoon each.
Nutrition per serving: 70 calories, 6 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 25 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 85 milligrams sodium
Wasabi-and-Napa Cabbage Hot Dog
For an extra special touch, add shredded carrots and fresh bean sprouts to sandwiches.
Prep time: 15 minutes
4 Oscar Mayer Selects uncured Angus beef franks
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1⁄4 cup Miracle Whip dressing
4 hot dog buns
1 cup shredded napa cabbage
16 Heinz spicy garlic pickle chips
Heat the franks as directed on package.
Meanwhile, mix the wasabi paste and Miracle Whip until blended.
Fill the buns with cabbage; top with pickle chips, franks and Miracle Whip mixture.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per serving: 340 calories, 20 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 35 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 720 milligrams sodium
Cuban Skewers With Spicy Garlic Pickles
Prep time: 10 minutes
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
2 slices white bread, toasted, each cut into 9 squares
2 Kraft Big Slice aged Swiss cheese slices, each cut into 9 pieces
18 Heinz spicy garlic pickle chips
6 slices Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh smoked ham, cut into 3 strips each
Spread mustard onto toast squares; top with cheese and pickles.
Wrap each topped toast square with 1 ham piece.
Thread each onto a small skewer.
Makes 6 servings, 3 pieces each.
Nutrition per serving: 80 calories, 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 360 milligrams sodium
Sweet and Spicy Pickle Slaw
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus refrigerating
1 cup Heinz sweet and spicy pickle chips with 1⁄4 cup pickle juice
1⁄4 cup Kraft Real Mayo mayonnaise
1 package (14 ounces) coleslaw blend (cabbage slaw mix)
Chop the pickles. Mix with the pickle juice and mayo until blended.
Toss with the coleslaw blend in large bowl.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Makes 8 servings, 1⁄2 cup each.
Nutrition per serving: 80 calories, 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 360 milligrams sodium