Vince Booth describes his Booth Brine Co. as a “humble farm and pickle company.”
Booth grew up in Yakima and has a degree in philosophy from Whitman College. While he was in college, he worked as a cook at Grapefields in Walla Walla. (Now he spends a few days a week as a server at their successor, brasserie four.)
After graduation from Whitman in 2007, Booth spent several years farming in California before returning to Walla Walla. Now he tends 450 cabbages and rows of cucumbers, Napa (Chinese) cabbage, beets, carrots and fennel on a farm on Mill Creek Road.
Currently, Booth Brine Co. offers three fermented products — pickles, sauerkraut and kimchee. But the addition of beets and carrots to this year’s plot may portend a few additions to his offerings in the future.
In his first year, Booth produced 300 quarts of pickles and 200 pints of sauerkraut and kimchee. This year, he plans on expanding to 2,500 quarts of pickles and 2,000 pints of sauerkraut and kimchee.
A degree in philosophy may seem like an unusual background for farming and making fermented foodstuffs. But Booth thinks that a desire to understand how the world works at its roots informs his farming.
Booth ferments his concoctions for one to six weeks in ceramic crocks in a clean, cool room in the basement of the Walla Walla Elks Lodge. After they’ve reached briny goodness, he puts them up in jars in the lodge’s kitchen.
As he points out, they’re not canned. Fermentation creates the acid that preserves the crunchy, probiotic goodness of his pickles, sauerkraut and kimchee for months in a cool environment — the cooler it is, the longer they last.
Booth Brine Co.’s products are available at Andy’s Market in College Place, Blue Valley Meats and Klicker’s in Walla Walla and seasonally at the Walla Walla Farmers Market. Booth hopes to expand his market into the West Side in the near future.