If you’re part of the continually growing friends, family and co-workers circle of Montauk resident Jane Bimson, you already know about Jane’s Garden and the resulting Nana’s Pickles. In fact, you don’t just know them, you eagerly await their December distribution.
“My grandmother always made pickles,” says Bimson, recalling a big Massachusetts garden full of tomatoes and cucumbers and wonderful childhood memories. “She gave me the recipe about 30 years ago and thinking [holiday] green I made them for Christmas gifts.”
A tradition was born. Years later the sweet and tangy bread-and-butters were formally named by Bimson’s brother via a reciprocal Christmas gift: a label. A gesture, but also a suggestion.
“My brother decided I should sell them,” says the advertising representative for the East Hampton Star. She agreed and joined the ranks of artisanal fermenters that include Horman’s Best, Taste of the North Fork and many others in New York City (Rick’s Picks, Brooklyn Brine, McClure’s, to name a few). Which means now you don’t even have to know the woman herself to get Nana’s Pickles on your plate. You can buy them by the pint at Vicki’s Veggies stand (596 Montauk Highway, Amagansett). Sales proceeds pay for about a week’s worth of vacation dinners for Bimson and her boyfriend, Steven LiPani.
A vacation well-deserved, because making pickles is serious work, or at least seriously time consuming. And the annual production has significantly increased in size. These days about 10 percent of the Kirby cucumbers Bimson uses are from her own garden; Vicki’s supplies the rest to help meet demand.
Bimson says she could not do it all alone. She’s quick to credit LiPani for his role, too. “We’re a team. He does all the slicing.” That’s every cucumber and onion in every batch. Once sliced, Bimson coats them in kosher salt. They sit for many hours, then are drained and put into jars where they’re covered with the secret recipe of vinegar, sugar and spices.
Whatever the secret, Nana’s Pickles are a hit. “Everyone loves them,” says Bimson modestly, almost surprised, proud of the undeniable fact. “It’s great.”
It sure is; and they sure are.