We were recently in Wisconsin visiting my friends at Organic Valley, and my post about how Organic Valley Cares More has been very popular since! One of the days we spent at their office in La Farge, Wisconsin. While we were at the office, we ate lunch at the Organic Valley cafeteria.
Now, cafeteria sounds like so grade school or summer camp – and you may think, lunch lady style food, it’s not that good, there’s no fruits or veggies, just a pile of plop on your plate. Well, at Organic Valley headquarters that couldn’t be farther from the truth!
We were there early in the morning taking a tour, and Delaney, myself, and our friend Chris (of Chris’s Kitchen) found ourselves lost in the commercial kitchen watching the chefs prep for the day. When we got pulled out of there and back on our tour, I already couldn’t wait for lunch.
The Organic Valley headquarters has a commercial kitchen that cooks two meals a day – breakfast and lunch, and they also cater events. There are also refrigerators stocked with milk and chocolate milk all day so you can go and grab a glass anytime you want. So, I took my chocolate milk, and we ran back to catch up with the rest of our group.
Not only are all the meals made fresh from scratch every day, but every ingredient they use is organic. Now, this is my kind of kitchen! So, when we were told we were going to be eating lunch in the cafeteria, I was totally okay with that. I was even excited about it.
And the icing on the cake was that they charge you by the weight of your meal! Not by what you get, but by how much it weighs. I thought this was so amazing, and it really took me back to my Quiksilver sample sale days when they charged you by the weight of your bag, and not what was inside. I didn’t pay for my meal that day, obviously. But this really made me smile because the way they structure this for their employees is just amazing.
Just like at Quiksilver, it wasn’t about what you were getting. It was about giving your employees a very fair (or better than fair) value for something that they need, want, and can easily get at work. And that is something that not many companies do for their employees. So, I could just feel the love coming out of this cafeteria already.
We had steak sandwiches for lunch that day, and all their grass-fed organic steak comes from Organic Valley cows just down the road. And it was beyond delicious. But what really stood out to me was these pickles that I just happened to add on top of my salad.
Delaney got them too, and we found ourselves not being able to stop talking about these pickles! I mean they were just refrigerator pickles, but they were so good that we talked about them even after we got home. So, I emailed one of my friends at Organic Valley and asked her if she knew anyone who worked in the kitchen, and luckily, she did.
She introduced me to Cindy, an Organic Valley chef. And I asked Cindy if she wouldn’t mind sharing her refrigerator pickle recipe with me because I just wanted to make them for myself! Of course, she was happy to. So, I wanted to share a little bit of Cindy’s story here and she was kind enough to let me share her recipe for refrigerator pickles with all of you as well.
Because according to Cindy, “it should be enjoyed”. And I couldn’t agree with her more. So, thank you Cindy for making these amazing refrigerator pickles and for sharing with all of us! Get the recipe for refrigerator pickles – Grandma Tillie’s Refrigerator Pickles, below!
Mimi: How long have you worked in the Organic Valley kitchen?
Cindy: I have worked in the OV kitchen for 5 1/2 plus years. I started here when the building first opened here in Cashton. Best decision I ever made to join the OV workplace.
M: Who or what inspired you to want to become a chef?
C: There were three people who influenced my love for cooking. Both my maternal and paternal grandma’s and my dad were great cooks!!!!! I spent a lot of time as a child with my grandparents. My grandma’s both loved to cook for the family, and I was allowed actually encouraged to be a part of cooking the meals. I have fond memories of time spent with them. Gathering vegetables from the garden and meat from the freezer to prepare the meal. The pickles were always one of my favorites.
So, when I stared working at OV in the kitchen as salad bar prep person, I decided to bring in some of grandma’s recipes – the pickle recipe being one of those. I never expected them to be the hit that they are. But when the croppies bring guests in those pickles are one of the things on the salad bar most commented about!
I really enjoy making people happy with the food I make. My dad loved to cook and was asked by many people to cook for events for them. He enjoyed making people happy by the food he made, so I guess I come by it naturally.
M: What does it mean to you to work at OV?
C: It means a lot to me to work at OV as they have the same values that I was raised on. OV gives me the opportunity to grow in my job position, they are very supportive of ideas I come up with for the salad bar line. I simply couldn’t ask for a better place to work. OV allows me the freedom to be me!!!!
M: So, tell me the story behind these pickles, or pickled cucumbers, what do we call them?
C: We are going to call the pickle recipe Grandma Tillie’s Refrigerator Pickles. This recipe came from her family when she moved here from Germany with her husband Otto, my grandpa. She made these pickles with cucumbers from her garden. I remember helping pick the cucumbers, onion, and green peppers from the garden. I helped make the pickles with her and always loved eating them. I have very fond memories of spending time in the kitchen cooking as a child. Little did I know than that it would help mold me into the person I am today.
M: Small world because I have a grandpa Otto too, and he was a butcher. It’s my dad’s middle name, and I loved the name so much, that my first dog was named Otto. He recently just passed, but was the love of my life!
C: Such a small world that you and I both have an Otto 🙂
M: So, what is your favorite Organic Valley product?
C: My Favorite OV product is the cream cheese, I love making cheesecake, another favorite here at OV. There are so many uses for the cream cheese, I use it in many recipes!
Why go organic?
You may be wondering why I push organic ingredients for everything, even savory and healthy dishes. Organic ingredients go beyond just health and wellness, and contribute so much to the taste and flavor of a recipe. So, if you think that you’re making something healthy and buying fruits, veggies, or meats so maybe you don’t need to spend the extra to go organic here – let me sway your thinking.
Organic ingredients are made in a more pure way, therefore using no additives, no GMOs, and minimal ingredients. This really allows the true ingredients to shine – and because of that their flavor shines through. Therefore, organic ingredients are more flavorful than their non organic counterparts. So, just because it’s already a healthy recipe, or you’re already buying good for you ingredients – it doesn’t mean you can skip organic! Trust me here, and make the switch. Your body and your taste buds will thank you!
So, I highly recommend that you buy the best organic ingredients for this recipe! You can also shop my Amazon Storefront for all my favorite organic ingredients here. Tip – hover over each ingredient to see the name. And if you want to learn more about organic foods and the difference, read my post here on Food Labels and What They Mean.
The Best Refrigerator PicklesDifficulty: Easy
These are the best Refrigerator Pickles I’ve ever had. This recipe couldn’t be easier, with just 7 ingredients, you can make homemade fresh pickles that can be used as a salad topper, a snack, on burgers and so much more!
6 organic large cucumbers
1 organic large yellow onion
1 organic green bell pepper
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
226 grams (2 cups) organic cane sugar
1 cup organic white vinegar
1 tablespoon organic celery seed
- Don’t peel the cucumbers but slice them in thicker slices (about 1/4-inch). You should have about 8 cups once sliced. Set aside.
- Cut the yellow onion, in half and then slice. Set aside.
- Cut the green pepper into strips, set aside.
- In a large bowl, layer cucumbers first, then onion, then green pepper. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top. Cover and let sit for 2 hours, then drain off liquid.
- Layer pickles first in a bowl than onion and green pepper, sprinkle 1-tablespoon of kosher salt over the top of pickle combo. Cover and let sit for 2 hours drain off liquid at this point.
- Mix together- till combined and pour over pickle combo mix well
- In a medium bowl, add the cane sugar, white vinegar, and celery seed and mix together. Pour over the cucumber mixture and mix well.
- Let the veggies sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 days, stirring once day (this is the hardest part!). After a couple days, they are ready to eat.
- Store in the fridge for up to 1 month (if they will last that long!).
- High Altitude – Follow the recipe as noted.
Did you like this post?
Make sure to check out my Dill Cream Cheese Spread recipe, which I’m sure you’ll love too! And, share it with someone who you think may also like it!