25 Sep 2019
Does anyone make pickles quite as good as your Grandma? Christine Fishwick does and we guarantee you, her The Pickled Wife range of condiments will transport you all the way back to your Nana’s house. Here’s her story.
TBT: How did The Pickled Wife begin?
CHRISTINE:The Pickled Wife story began back in 2014 at our friends’ winery in Pemberton one lazy Saturday afternoon while sipping wine and grazing on shared plates with friends. Our friends had visitors from Perth who loved my condiments and wanted to buy them, but at that stage I only made them for our own pantry, so the conversation began that I should begin producing our preserves and find a market in the local region. After a few chardonnays the name ‘The Pickled Wife’ came about, which was rather apt that day, and the as they say, the rest is history. Our business name constantly receives positive feedback from our customers – people really seem to love the name.
TBT: What makes The Pickled Wife unique?
CHRISTINE:We love were we live and value our relationships and the friendships we have forged over the years with our growers in the region. Working with such quality produce makes the whole process of crafting small batch condiments a pleasure.
I believe our products reflect not only the diversity or our region but the connection to everything local, which makes what we do very special. Being able to work from home means I can dedicate my time to ensuring we deliver a product that is full of goodness and tastes real, not some mass produced product that doesn’t have depth of flavour or help support our local growers and community.
We are hands on all the way, from the first point of contact with the grower, through to the process of crafting our product like my grandmother and mum did back in the day, and then showcasing our range to the public through tastings, which is always such a great part of the process.
I guess our main ethos is to keep producing a quality driven product that share those food memories, which transcend back to Nan’s kitchen, with our customers. There are no artificial additives – each mouthful is just good quality food. I love that.
TBT: What do you personally love about making condiments?
CHRISTINE: One of my favourite aspects of our business and producing condiments is the process of heading out to our local farming community to pick-up fresh produce – I love the conversations we share with our growers, the friendships we have made over the years and being able to work from home.
Also, I feel strongly about keeping those old family recipes alive, as they do tend to get lost as generations pass on. Our Green Tomato Pickle is one recipe that I hold close to my heart and love making because it will always remind me of my beloved Nan who I affectionately knew as “Little Nana”. This recipe has been passed down through the generations and keeping those recipes and memories alive means a great deal to me.
Finally, I love the connections we have with our customers and receiving their feedback on our product range – it’s what makes everything so worthwhile.
TBT: Are there plans to expand the product range beyond condiments (and dukkah) and if so, what are you considering?
CHRISTINE:I guess I’m always thinking of different ways I’d like to expand our business and how to be more creative. That process never stops. There are loads of ideas floating around in my head, and there are other prospects I’d like to explore further down the track, but with anything, it all comes down to timing, money and having the time/energy to dedicate to all those creative ideas. There are plenty of them, but I’ll keep a lid on those for now. I’ve found sharing your ideas can sometimes lead to others taking them. I’ve learnt that the hard way – as many of us in business have – so I’ll keep a lid on those for now.
TBT: Are there advantages to being based in Manjimup and if so, what are they?
CHRISTINE:Living in the Southern Forest region, the second largest food bowl in the Southern Hemisphere, we have the advantage of being able to source a diverse and abundant supply of quality-driven local produce.
We are ardent supporters of our local farming community and have a wonderful relationship with our local growers, which is a great advantage to our small business in that we are able to source fresh produce directly from the farm gate. This ensures we maintain a quality product.
Our products reflect the pristine nature of our region and its uniqueness. Being able to capture that into each of our small batch condiments is rather special. Manjimup is a small community and we are all so proud of how our area is growing from strength to strength. The people here are incredibly genuine and continue to show us loads of support. It’s very humbling.
TBT: What are your favourite products in the range and why?
CHRISTINE:That’s a tricky question! They all hold a special place in my heart, but I guess if I had to choose one from our range it would have to be our Green Tomato Pickle. That recipe has been in my family for five generations and when I’m crafting this pickle, I’m transported back to my Nan’s kitchen in the Great Southern town of Albany. I can still remember the taste and feel of my Nan’s kitchen, which was filled with fresh slabs of bread with lashings of butter, silverside and dollops of my Nan’s Green Tomato Pickle. It was so good! When Nan passed away, I had to continue making this pickle, not only to keep those family recipes alive but to also honour her memory.
TBT: What’s the secret to creating an incredible condiment?
CHRISTINE: Firstly, the true secret to creating a quality condiment is quality ingredients, and what better place to source beautiful produce than in Western Australia’s Southern Forests? Plus, we have a great supplier of premium spices.
Secondly, it’s having a good recipe and an understanding of how to produce a quality condiment. Preparation is key. The ‘sweating down’ process when making a relish or pickle is such an important part in creating a good product. It ensures the right consistency and flavour profiles.
Finally, from a business perspective, branding is another important aspect of the process. Having a catchy business name means people remember your brand and allows you to stand out on the shelf in what is truly a competitive market. Being associated with our local food council brand ‘Genuinely Southern Forests’ has also been part of our success as a small batch gourmet artisan – it helps the city folk connect with us, and associate us with quality, when purchasing our condiments.
Want to try The Pickled Wife range of small-batch boutique condiments? Pop in to The Black Truffle to try the Hot Jam, Dukkah, and Christine’s Nanna’s famous Green Tomato Pickle.