Michiganders have a passion for pickles. Maybe it's in our Motor City DNA. After all, it was in Detroit that a Croatian immigrant named Frank Vlasic got the idea in the 1920s that he should expand his cheese business to include pickles, too. By 1942, they had an idea to package the pickles in glass jars instead of buckets – and business took off.
The pickling-making tradition continues today, with several small artisanal companies popping up alongside larger pickle producers in recent years. If you haven't sampled the variety of pickles that Michigan has to offer, check out this list for ideas. And later this summer, maybe even consider swinging up to Linwood, Michigan (in Bay County) in August for its annual Pickle Festival (toldja this state was series about its pickled cucumbers!).
Want to know the secret behind McClure's pickle recipe? No one's telling between brothers Joe and Bob, who co-own the Detroit venture. Mom and dad are involved, too. But it's their great grandmother Lala's recipe that gives McClure's pickles their distinctive mixture of garlic and dill that's been praised everywhere from The Detroit News to Bon Appetit to The New York Times.
David Klingenberger calls himself the Chief Fermenting Officer for good reason. As the man behind Ann Arbor's The Brinery, which produces sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles, he's an expert. The Brinery prides itself on using a natural fermentation process – meaning these pickles are preserved through brining, not vinegar. You can find The Brinery products at many area retailers, including Hiller's Markets, Whole Foods and other southeast Michigan spots.
Blair Nosan is known as the head "pickler" at Suddenly Sauer. The business began in Nosan's home kitchen in 2010. You can sign up for fermentation classes through Suddenly Sauer and learn how to pickle your own vegetables. The best part – besides canning your local harvest? Suddenly Sauer has its own mobile kitchen. That's right: They'll come to you!
The best way to track down a jar of Perkin's Pickles is to 'like' their Facebook page. You'll get regular updates on where to buy your own stash of their crisp, crunchy cucumbers. Regular spots include the Historic Eastern Market in Detroit and other local markets throughout southeast Michigan, including Western Market in Ferndale.
Buy your pickles by the bucket from Freestone Pickle Company. They carry a variety of pickles in sizes ranging from extra large to individually wrapped dills for snacking. Order Freestone pickles online or at area retailers like GFS Marketplace, in southeast Michigan, Quality Dairy (over Lansing way) and other locations.
The praise for Topor's pickles has literally been spread by word of mouth. You won't find a website or Facebook page to track down these sought-after cukes. But fans swap Topor pickle sightings on Yelp to let pickle aficionados where to find them.
Pickling since 1923, Hausbeck's has been making 'em by the thousands. While you may not be able to order this wholesaler's bottled pickles online or find them in local grocers, chances are you've already had a Hausbeck pickle. They supply them to many nationwide fast food chains, including Burger King!
Frank Vlasic began perfecting pickles back in early 1900s in the heart of Detroit. As the company expanded, the family business was eventually sold to a larger food distributor that still packs Vlasic Pickles right here in Michigan, in Imlay City. You can find Frank's pickles today in pretty much any grocery store in the country.