Britt's Pickles is little more than a cash register and a cluster of barrels in Pike Place Market's Corner Market Building. In the crowds of tourists shopping for salmon, lattes, and T-shirts referencing these items, I nearly walked past the tiny pickle shop. This would have been tragic because I might never have tried black garlic. Black garlic is made by what owner Britt Eustis calls "spontaneous fermentation." Garlic cloves are incubated between 141 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks. The process turns garlic into a rich black paste, like butter from balsamic vinegar– marinated cows. I mourned every slice of pizza and piece of bruschetta I'd ever eaten without it.
Also tasty: full sour, half sour, and ginger pepper pickles. The half sours, somewhere between pickles and fresh cucumbers, were fermented for only one week. All three had a faint aftertaste comparable to the smell of horses. Inexplicably, this is a good thing.
Britt's pickle fascination began in Japan in the 1980s, when he toured small family businesses that had made specialty fermented foods for hundreds of years. His live-culture pickling hobby and extensive organic foods business experience yielded Britt's Pickles in September 2012. The next thing he hopes to pickle is kelp. Britt claims he has never failed to pickle anything—who knows what the future may hold.