Too Little Thyme’s Pickles & Preserves: Pickling to Perfection

Kathleen Atkins

 

Jane Costello of Too Little Thyme has mastered the art of pickling to perfection.  Based out of her home in Westport, Costello has been sharing her old family pickle and preserves recipes with Connecticut for the past 15 years.  “I am a foodie,” says Costello.  “I am always in the kitchen and I am happy to be turning this hobby into my career.”  

Growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Costello spent her weekends browsing the rows of stalls at the Lancaster Central Market, America’s oldest operating farmer’s market.  “I was used to produce not wrapped in cellophane,” says Costello.  “My mother always had something fresh on the counter.”  It was from her childhood days in the market and in her family garden that Costello developed her love for fresh ingredients.  “It sounds like the old story, but everything I learned in the kitchen was from my mother and grandmother,” says Costello, “including my pickle recipe.”

Costello began her business by giving jars of pickles as holiday gifts, but everyone would come back wanting more of that cold crunch.  Using her grandmother’s recipe, Costello makes a cold, crisp and crunchy pickle.  Unlike the typical spears or slices, Jane’s jars are stuffed to the brim with chunky bite size pieces.  Biting into one of Jane’s Pickles, taste buds are tickled with the perfect combination of sweet and sour.  

She makes her pickles the old fashioned, authentic way, with old crocks and wooden spoons.  Using classic mason jars, Costello prides herself on showing customers exactly what is in her pickles.  “Presentation is key; that, and a good recipe and good ingredients!”

The vinegar-laced cucumbers are not the only jarred delicacy coming out of the kitchen.  “I don’t waste anything,” says Costello in regards to the pickle make making process.  Jars of chopped up relish and bottles of brine are also available for purchase.  “The bottles of brine make a great Bloody Mary splash,” says Costello of her pickled twist on a classic cocktail.  Instead of olives, add a pickle garnish to tie it all together.

While customers have the pleasure of purchasing pickles all year round, Too Little Thyme offers seasonal treats as well.  Working from a 200-year-old recipe passed down from a Lancaster neighbor to her mother, Costello makes brandied peaches and pears, a cranberry and tangerine relish, and toasted rosemary walnuts. The brandied peaches and pears, made like a chutney, are a perfect accompaniment for ice cream, baked brie or pork tenderloin.  “The peaches and pears were traditionally had with Thanksgiving, along with the cranberry relish,” says Costello. 

Jane’s pickles and the other delicacies of Too Little Thyme have been made popular simply by word of mouth.  She sells her goods at local farmer’s markets, church fairs and other area festivals, such as the Dogwood Festival.  After you get a taste for Too Little Thyme’s pickles and preserves and find yourself wanting more, bring back your jar for a dollar off your next purchase.  Costello sells a quart of pickles for $10, a pint of relish for $10 and a bottle of the Bloody Mary Splash for $6.  To get your jar, contact Jane Costello of Too Little Thyme at janecostello@optonline.net

[PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAM ZAREMBA]



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