I love my kitchen scale
One of the great things about making pickles at home is that you do not need a lot of fancy equipment. A couple of pots, a jar lifter, a kitchen timer, a measuring cup and spoons, a knife, a cutting board… getting started won’t break the bank. Many people have these things on hand already (except maybe the jar lifter). Back in the easy breezy days when pickle-making was for me a casual hobby, I took notes on my pickle experiments in a little black notebook (most dudes have women’s phone numbers in those books… I have pickle experiments). Because Tecate was an integral part of the experience in those early days, the notation occasionally took on an abstract-expressionist slant. And the measurement methodology (“a heaping quarter-teaspoon of cayenne pepper”) left a lot to interpretation and encouraged freestyling. That’s one of the things that makes home canning fun. Variations from batch to batch are inevitable, but that’s what makes them unique, like wine vintages.
A sea change came with my decision to become a professional pickler. My recipes were now vetted and administered by the FDA (next time you have a spare 15 hours, check out their publication A Food Labeling Guide). We worked with (and still do) a great group at Cornell University’s Food Venture Center on food safety compliance, lead by Olga Padilla-Zakour and Herb Cooley. They made it plain that an official recipe could not specify a heaping quarter teaspoon of anything (I left out the Tecate part), but had to be exact, precise, and measured in grams.
And so I bought, for about 50 bucks, my first kitchen scale. I still have it. I chose a Salter.
The scale changed everything. I discovered being exacting about ingredients was its own pleasure. And when you making a product to sell, you want people who like what you are doing to know what exactly they are getting. Hey, you can still change things up… just make sure to notate the modifications in your little black book accordingly. But this post is about the scale. It is a miracle of design… as simple as it was accurate. Three buttons take care of everything you need. And other than needing new batteries twice in five years, it has never let me down.
Starting a pickle company has had its share of surprises, but I never thought scaling up the business would include this kind of development.