What makes Lititz Pickle Company’s pickles some of the best? A family history soaked in pickle juice.
For generations, founder Mark Olenick’s ancestors lived in Eastern Europe’s Carpathian mountain region where the pickling method was used to preserve vegetable harvests for the harsh winter months. When Olenick’s grandmother immigrated to the United States in 1917, she brought the well-tested family pickling recipes with her. Soon she was married and began filling her Pennsylvania basement with preserved foods. Surrounded by pickled vegetables, her 11 children absorbed their mother’s extensive knowledge and grew up practicing her tried and true methods themselves. In turn, they passed on the recipes to the next generation of children, including Mark Olenick.
For many years pickling was just a hobby for Olenick who enjoyed sharing the products of this passion with family and friends. He had never considered a career in pickles until a close friend mentioned that Olenick’s pickles were good enough to sell. With this encouragement and his family recipes for Garlic Dill and Bread & Butter Pickles in hand, Olenick founded Lititz Pickle Company in 2009.
According to Olenick, starting with raw ingredients is the key to creating a crisp and crunchy pickle. Therefore, there is no actual cooking involved in his recipes. Instead the pickled products are preserved as they cure in a barrel for up to eight weeks. Olenick is just as particular about his ingredients as he is about his pickling methods. The vegetables used to create Lititz’s pickles are sourced from growers that only use natural farming methods. In addition, he uses sea salt rather than kosher salt, which gives the pickled vegetables their wonderful flavor without the negative health effects of sodium.
Thanks to Olenick’s pickling creativity the Lititz line has expanded over time to include additional pickle flavors and vegetables as well as relishes, dressings and seasonings. Rather than start from scratch to create a new pickled product, Olenick begins with the family recipes as a base and then adds ingredients that complement the natural flavors. For example, he found that he could give his garlic and dill recipe new character by adding some heat using chili flakes. In addition to these “Kickles” (short for pickles with a kick) Olenick has experimented with pickling locally-grown mushrooms and asparagus, which he calls “Sassy Grass” for the sassy flavor the spicy brine gives the asparagus.
For Olenick, Lititz Pickle Company is more than a business. It is a channel for his personal philosophy of community-mindedness. Olenick believes that in order for communities and businesses to truly thrive, they must work together. He has been following this principle since he first founded Lititz with his decision to focus on forming partnerships with small, family-owned markets rather than major grocery stores. In an effort to give back to the community that has helped Lititz achieve a level of success Olenick could not have anticipated, a portion of the company’s profits go to local ministries and food banks. To help the next generation of the community’s families stay active, Lititz also sponsors local youth soccer and football teams.
The company’s dedication to supporting its community and Lititz’s accompanying success proves that Olenick’s attitude of “the more you give, the more you get back” is an effective guide for running a small business.