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Bacteria-frenzied fun returns with Pickle Fest 2022

Social Pickle brings the ultimate pickle festival – "a day-long celebration of all things preserved, fermented and jarred" – to the Hideaway this Saturday. The team told us more about why pickling is a positive social activity.

Two women making pickle at a Glut Club event organised by Social Pickle.
Hannah Fincham

Back with a bubble for its second year, Pickle Fest is an all-day community event for people to trying their hand at food preservation to share their creations.

If you haven’t heard of Social Pickle, the people behind this annual celebration of bacteria, they are a community group who are passionate about bringing people together to share the joys of fermenting, pickling and producing.

They use various food preservation techniques to make the most of Sheffield's surplus food. They forage for wild ingredients, tap into allotment networks for leftovers, visit the city's farms for excess produce, and use surplus from local shops through the Foodhall project.

At their regular workshop evenings, called Glut Clubs, there’s the opportunity to experiment with fermentation and preservation and share knowledge with the pickling community.

We spoke to the Social Pickle team to get the lowdown on 2022's Pickle Fest, coming up this Saturday 29 October at Hideaway on Eyre Lane.

What’s been fermenting at Social Pickle over the last 12 months?

It’s been a whole year of bacteria-frenzied fun for Social Pickle. The team have been meeting regularly over at Foodhall to host Glut Clubs, our social fermentation club, processing surplus, foraged and locally-grown ingredients.

Alongside this regular Sheffield-based activity, we’ve had opportunities to be invited across the country to bring our sense of food preservation to new communities.

Rule of Threes, who have been bringing life and activity into libraries in Bootle, Liverpool, had us up for one of their community cook togethers. We took the opportunity to show the group how you can utilise unused pickles at the back of the fridge to blend into exciting new flavours of ketchups, to go with vegetarian sausages made there amongst the book shelves.

Site Gallery invited us to be part of Out & About, the council-funded Cultural Industries Quarter Festival. Their four curated weekends of activity, celebrating creativity in the area, wound up with the sustainability-themed weekend where we hosted two fermentation workshops, engaging with dozens of families, artists and tourists.

We popped up our favourite mini market where we sell the produce created at the Glut Clubs on a pay-what-you-can basis. This always doubles up as a conversation booth about the value of food, accessibility and invisible labours, the jars of pickles and ferments making great props and prompts!

We’ve also begun to work closer with some of Sheffield’s amazing food growing network. This year we have processed lots of lovely organic veg from the likes of Beanies and Moss Valley.

You’ll be able to try, and buy, these ingredients across a range of products we have at the Pickle Fest market.

Glut Club Hannah Fincham
Hannah Fincham

What can we expect from Pickle Fest?

Pickle Fest is a day-long celebration of all things preserved, fermented and jarred. During the day, we will host workshops, a market and various kid-friendly activities.

Three workshops will be held during the day offering a hands-on experience of making your own fermented vegetables, run by professional facilitators and picklers. We will also have drop-in art workshops during the day as well as a mini-market consisting of local artists, fresh and pickled produce.

Bring yourself, your pickles or just your curiosity along for all or any part of the day. We operate a pay-what-you-can model, so no one is turned away for lack of funds. If you’re able, you can support the festival and the wider project by contributing an entry donation to the event and purchasing our collective creations from the mini market.

Why is pickling a positive activity?

The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste in a single year – even though 8.4 million people in the UK are in food poverty. Not only does learning to preserve our ingredients mean less waste, it’s also an opportunity to heighten our senses and trust in our intuition as to when a product is ready or good to eat, rather than relying on best-before dates and supermarket stickers. It also empowers us to make our own food products out of cheap whole ingredients.

How can people enter the Pickle Fest competition?

In the evening at Pickle Fest, we’ll have music along with our annual community-judged pickle competition, where anyone can enter a jar and everyone can taste and vote on their favourite fermented or preserved products. Whether it’s hot sauce or jam, we want you to bring your wildest creations for the competition to get the chance of being crowned a peoples' pickle champion.

This event is open to everyone, from people who ferment everyday to those who are just inquisitive and want to try their hand at making and tasting.

There are eight categories including: jams, chutneys, pickles, ferments, drinks (non-alcoholic), hot sauce, NOT hot sauce, and firm ferments (e.g. cheese and miso). These will be judged by all event attendees, with bread and crackers provided as vessels for everyone’s homemade creations.

Submission for the competition is open from 12pm at Hideaway and closes at 5pm. Tasting and voting runs until 7:30pm with the results announced at 8 by a special guest host. Prizes will be awarded to the winners and runners-up in each category.

The Sheffield-based band Soup Review will compere the evening's entertainment, consisting of performances by local bands, artists and DJs.

Learn more

Pickle Fest 2022 is taking place on Saturday 29 October, 12-10pm, at Hideaway (61 Eyre Lane, S1 3GF).

You can get more involved by joining Social Pickle at one of their events or getting stuck in at one of its Glut Club events.

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