"I love pickles," Josie Erskine beamed as she sliced turnips into ghost-white half-moons.
She dumped the root veggies into a mixing bowl with a clatter and salted them generously.
"At the roller skating rink, I was the kid that bought the pickle. That was me. Movie theaters: I bought the pickle," said Erskine.
For the past four years, Erskine has been experimenting with quick pickle recipes from around the world.
"I like pickles from all over the place, so I feel like whenever I travel or I get out, I'm always interested in people's pickles. So my idea is bringing some of the world's pickles to Boise. So I have some Japanese pickles, Chinese pickles, English pickles. That pickle right there," Erskine said, pointing to a plastic tub packed with dill fronds, "is called The Farmhouse, so that's a traditional dill."
Erskine, who owns Peaceful Belly Farm with her husband, Clay, recently started selling her homemade pickles by the pound at the Boise Farmers Market, which moved indoors for the winter to 516 S. Eighth St. On her first Saturday selling the vinegary veggies--everything from a traditional Chinese turnip pickle with smoked paprika (the Shanghai Surprise) to a candied ginger turnip pickle (the Fairy Tale)--she sold out within two hours.
Erskine uses a variety of vinegars to make her quick pickles--malt, apple cider, rice wine, champagne, white wine--and plans to vary the
veggies based on the season.
"The idea behind the whole pickles for Peaceful Belly is they'll all be seasonal," said Erskine. "So right now we have turnips, radishes and winter squash."
Erskine said she's surprised how receptive Boise consumers have been to her handmade specialty pickles, a trend that's been booming in cities like New York and Portland, Ore., for years. And while Erskine's pickles hold up just fine on their own--with bold flavors and a satisfying snap--she does have some serving suggestions.
"I think the Lemon Licker is great with fish. The Lebanese pickle would go great with any kind of red meat, like if you were to eat a steak. The Fairy Tale would be wonderful to put into sushi or to eat with any type of Asian food, or if you make a spring roll. The lime radish, which I don't have a name for yet, the Mexicali Rose I keep playing with, I think that would be great on tacos or inside a burrito or on a sandwich," said Erskine. "Most of them would be great in sandwiches."