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The Daily Tar Heel

Local pickled produce take high honors in nationwide good food awards

Their sharp flavor coupled with their distinct crunch create a unique eating experience that adds color and texture to meals that lack flavor. On Jan. 15, the Good Food Awards committee awarded two local farms multiple recognitions in their pickled produce.

The Good Food Awards recognize the kind of food that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities. The Good Food Awards finalists and winners are determined using scores from blind tasting, as well as a vetting process, which verifies that finalists and winners meet industry-specific environmental and social criteria. April McGreger, creator and owner of Farmer’s Daughter Brand, is a veteran Good Food Awards winner.

“We won our first award in 2011,” McGreger said. “We were really excited to win four awards this year, beating our record of two in one year.”

Growing up in Mississippi, McGreger recalls her mother and grandmother always preparing fermented foods and produce at home.

“I started as a pastry chef at Lantern in Chapel Hill,” McGreger said. “I was also really interested in local Southern foods.”

Her local support of farmers and their produce led to an amount of locally grown food that was too much to consume, which is when she decided to preserve what she had bought. In total, McGreger has been awarded seven awards, all for various canned or jarred preserved foods. This year, it was her ramp and mustard seed kraut, ruby kraut, hot chili okra pickles and bourbon’d figs that took first place.

“Pickling is a way to extend the season,” she said. “We also have a lot of sustenance farming tradition in the South.”

Among McGreger’s award winning krauts and okra pickles are the dill pickles of Two Chicks Farm, created, owned and operated by Audrey Lin and Debbie Donnald.

The pair started Two Chicks Farm in 2009, originally selling locally grown, organic veggies to local farmer’s markets. Every once and a while, after a sale at the market, they would have left over produce. It was during this moment when Lin and Donnald started pickling surplus goods.

“We would bring home leftover vegetables and had to figure out how to utilize all the extra produce, so we started pickling,” Lin said.

In 2014, Donnald and Lin decided to restructure their enterprise, dedicating energy toward the fermenting and selling of jarred and canned goods.

“We started focusing our farming in what we can put into jars,” Donnald said.

Donnald and Lin both say one of their secret ingredients to award winning pickles is a lot of love and the ability to grow ingredients in-house.

UNC first-year Souli Athanasios Fertitta-Boutis said he likes the crunch of a pickle.

“They have a good sound whenever you chomp into them,” he said.

He said while his taste for pickles isn’t the most refined, he would like to experience what an award-winning pickle might taste like.

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