Driven by an interest in cooking and gardening, husband and wife Randy and Cori Kopke of Cutchogue have been making pickles for years. It was only after debuting their craft to a captive audience at Cori’s brother’s wedding in 2013 did the idea to start a business come to life. Thus, Backyard Brine was born.
The couple made 200 jars of pickles to hand out as favors at the Montauk wedding with cute names like ‘Dill-Death-Do-Us-Part” and “We Go Together Like Bread and Butter.” The pickles were so popular at the wedding that the couple soon had people calling to place orders as they became the talk of the town.
With the help of the Stony Brook University Calverton Incubator, the Kopkes took it step-by-step and got a few lucky breaks along the way. While searching for produce to bolster their supply for fulfilling large orders, one purveyor offered to carry the pickles on the store’s shelves. Now, the pickles are found in over 100 locations all over Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and even as far as Maryland and Georgia. A huge milestone for the company was when Whole Food Markets, known nationally for their organic offerings, picked up the product and began rolling out the pickles to stores in New York. Soon, all Whole Foods locations in NYC and on Long Island will carry the product.
The pickles all follow unique and creative recipes and have novelty names like Rowdy Pepper Belly and BBQ-Betty Lou. Original recipes make up their core offerings, including Dill-Death-Do-Us-Part and “Everything” Bread and Butter, and they also offer seasonal specialties like Pumpernickel Ry-Ry. They are hand-packed in small batches and are made from produce and herbs sourced from both their backyard and North Fork farmers. The fresh, natural ingredients are all sourced locally, and besides growing cucumbers the two also grow peppers, onions, and dill.
In 2015, Backyard Brine graduated from the Calverton incubator to a new manufacturing site on Cox Lane in Cutchogue. The new facility helps support the growing demand for the signature product and also includes retail space for the “pickle bar” that the Kopkes envision. Inspired by the tasting rooms at local wineries, the pickle bar will be BYOB when it opens and allow guests to sample the lineup. Randy Kopke also currently offers many pairing suggestions for the company’s products with local wines and craft beers. He says that spicy pickles pair well with lighter beers like IPAs while sweet pickles pair better with a porter or stout.
Long Islanders have come to embrace the new pickles as Backyard Brine continues receiving raving reviews and ever-increasing order quantities. They have a presence at farmers markets on nearly every weekend during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and many Long Island restaurants including Bistro 72 are now permanently serving the crunchy snack as part of their menus. Even North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue offers Backyard Brine pickles covered in dark chocolate and sea salt as a special twist to their candy lineup.
Backyard Brine offers 15 total varieties of pickles, including 5 types of dill pickles. The pickling process is different with each recipe, with some pickles fermented in water and sea salt over a period of time or the more traditional vinegar method.
Look for Backyard Brine pickles the next time you’re shopping on the North Fork, or visit backyardbrine.com to get a full listing of where you can get them. And of course, be sure to ask for a Backyard Brine pickle with your next lunch sandwich at Bistro 72.