Five years ago, Randy and Cori Kopke viewed making pickles as little more than a hobby. The avid gardeners plucked cumbers from their yard and began experimenting with homemade brines.
Little did they know they were laying the groundwork for their pickle company, Backyard Brine.
Today, they’re producing more than 900 jars per day at their Cutchogue canning facility, where they are also hoping to eventually host events in a new tasting room.
Backyard Brine quickly grew out of the Kopkes former home kitchen in Northport. The business hit a turning point in 2013, when the couple made small-batch pickles — dubbed Dill Death Do Us Part and We Go Together Like Bread and Butter — as favors for Cori’s brother’s wedding.
“People loved them and we knew we were really on to something,” said Cori, who had worked in accounting. “It was a moment, like, we can actually make pickles for a living.”
Their products are now shipped to national retailers like Whole Foods and to local award-winning kitchens like North Fork Table & Inn in Southold.
“It’s amazing to me that someone takes something that we made and can use it in a white linen restaurant,” Randy said. “To be a part of this foodie movement that we respect so much is incredible.”
The difference for Backyard Brine is in the brine itself, and more specifically the quality of the ingredients, according to the Kopkes. All the pickles have no artificial preservatives, chemicals or dyes. The cucumbers, peppers and other ingredients in all 10 varieties are sourced locally.
In 2014, they began renting kitchen space at the Stony Brook Business Incubator at Calverton before moving into the 1,800-square-foot warehouse on Cox Lane.
“We were always commuting to the North Fork because we get our produce from the farms out here and we knew it was time to sell the house and move — that was less than a year after we rented space at the Incubator,” Cori said. “The community here is so supportive. There are a lot of other couples in the local food industry and it has been so helpful to have their support.”
The Kopkes transformed the former garage space into a fully operational jarring center and added a rustic-chic tasting area, which they hope will open to the public for the first time this summer. Pickle lovers will be able sample the gourmet pickles that range from classic dill and bread and butter to creative brines like BBQ Betty Lou’s and Rowdy Pepper Bellies. Tours are planned along with tastings of Backyard Brine’s other small-batch pickled products and pairing events with local wines, craft beers and oysters.
The Kopkes are also getting into the condiment business this year. The couple is introducing two types of specialty mustards to the product line: Everyday Dijon and a New York City deli-style BB Brown spicy mustard.