Locally-made pickles specialize in unique flavors

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Our Hungry Hound says a Highwood-based business is making several types of unique pickles - now available in dozens of local grocery stores. (WLS)

Pickles are usually an afterthought in a meal. Maybe they come on the side of a sandwich or show up in a burger. But our Hungry Hound says a Highwood-based business is making several types of unique pickles - now available in dozens of local grocery stores.

Full Belly Pickles started about five years ago. You might recognize their distinctive glass jars as you've walked your neighborhood grocery store aisles. But take a closer look at what's inside, and you'll quickly see a chef's touch in the form of creative combinations.

There is a lot of brine being made each day inside the commercial kitchen at Full Belly, nearly hidden away in a Highwood strip mall. The recipe for the combination of water, salt, vinegar and spices is the brainchild of a former chef who got tired of his day job.

"Catering chef, executive chef and decided I'd had enough of it and loved what I was doing but it wasn't fun anymore, so I thought I'd get into something that was more fun and I opened up Full Belly," said Mitch Wasserman, the Founder of Full Belly Pickles.

He makes a standard semi-sweet bread and butter pickle, but also a Mariachi Mix, essentially a Mexican giardiniera.

"We make a hot, spicy carrot - our habanero fire stick - with habanero in the brine," he said.

"This is our pickled curry cauliflower. It's got carrots. Red pepper, and it's got sweet onion. Then the brine has ginger, garlic and turmeric in it, along with spices, which gives it a mild curry flavor, which is absolutely delicious. These are our Windy City dills. It's a Chicago-style dill. It's brined, it's got plenty of dill, plenty of spice, but it's not hot spice."

And since they're adding the cooked brine to the raw vegetables, and not pasteurizing them, the product manages to retain its crunchiness.

"And it requires refrigeration. So they stay crunchy for months and months on end. Our flavors are bigger, they're brighter," said Wasserman.

In Steve's Extra Course video, he visits another spot in Highwood, down the street from Fully Belly, for an amazing slice of Sicilian-style pizza and an authentic pistachio cookie at Maria's.
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In Steve's Extra Course video, he visits another spot in Highwood, down the street from Fully Belly.

Full Belly
Available in Mariano's, Whole Foods, and other specialty grocery stores
www.fullbellyyum.com

Extra Course: Maria's Bakery
410 Sheridan Rd, Highwood, IL 60040
847-266-0811
Related Topics:
foodhungry houndHighwood
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