Small-Batch Food Stars Jason Poole: The Pickle Guy

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Jason Poole is a pickle guy. “Salt has always been my good friend,” says Poole, the self-described “brine boss” at midtown’s Preservation & co., maker of handcrafted pickles and other shelf-stable food products, including mustard, flavored salts and Bloody Mary mix.

Poole was working as general manager at a local bar when he started the business in 2011. It got a big boost a year later when Poole placed second in Absolut Vodka’s national Bloody Mary competition with a recipe featuring Sriracha sauce, capers, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar reduction and pickling brine. He began bottling and selling his prizewinning mix and eventually left his job to open a production kitchen and retail space in a former automotive shop on 19th Street. (The entrance is a roll-up garage door.) To bankroll the project, he held two Kickstarter campaigns and got a financial assist from his dad. Even so, his wife had to take a job to support them both. “I play Russian roulette with my bank account every week,” Poole says.

His product line includes balsamic beets, black pepper asparagus, hefeweizen bread-and-butter pickle chips and hickory Brussels sprouts, plus three flavored salts: Sriracha, ghost pepper and citrus rosemary. (“Great as a rim on a margarita,” Poole says.) He also creates special releases such as whole-grain porter mustard, a Beer Week collaboration with Sacramento’s New Glory Craft Brewery. Every product is made by hand in small production runs, and an employee batch-numbers each jar using a black Sharpie. No matter how big the company grows, Poole promises to retain that personal touch. “There will always be a batch number so people know exactly when the product was made,” says Poole, who expects to produce 200,000 jars this year. (National retailer Home Goods recently started carrying his products.)

Available at: Taylor’s Market, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Nugget Markets.