Rushworth Kidder once said, “Good ideas, like good pickles, are crisp, enduring and devilishly hard to make.” But just outside of Stonewall, one local with a good idea is teaching people making pickles is not only simple but enjoyable.
Arin Smith, the owner of Perfectly Preserved, teaches hands-on classes that show just how easy and fun the process of preserving and canning can be. From pickles to jalapenos and even Brussel sprouts there is a class for everyone, and students get to take their yummy creations home to enjoy. “To me, the most important thing with what started all this was I wanted people to know how easy it is. It doesn’t have to take all day and they are ready to eat the next day and it’s fun.” Said Arin.
Smith was once the student in her grandmother’s kitchen, where preserving and living off the land was just a way of life. Growing up a short distance from her grandparent’s homestead, she often found herself picking vegetables in the garden, gathering eggs from the coop, and of course helping in the kitchen. “I grew up watching my Granny canning, and I asked her for her pickle recipe. And she said ‘Oh sure, I don’t know why you want to do that, that is a lot of trouble. And I said I just want to try it.” explained Arin. “Then I started making salsa and then I thought now let’s try some jelly, I was just experimenting.”
Her jars of pickles and other goodies soon became a hit with her friends and family. “I would take them to parties and people would ask to buy a jar or two. I started bringing them to my hair salon and sell them off my station. Then, people started buying cases of them and I started thinking maybe I can do this.” Smith moved forward and began selling her canned concoctions commercially and although this venture was successful, producing hundreds of jars a day began to take the enjoyment out of her hobby. After she ended her commercial run, she would get questions from friends wanting to learn the craft of canning. “I always had so many people ask me, can you come over and show me how to can or can I come over and watch you when you are going to can and that gave me the idea and it took off.”
As these classes with friends caught on, word began to spread, and soon there was no problem filling these weekend classes. “It’s because it’s fun. Everything is washed and ready to go, you just sit here and drink beer and have a good time” said Arin, “and I like the hands-on because you remember it more and you learn more when you are actually stuffing the jars.”
These classes are designed for a DIY good time. Many of the recipes Smith uses are from her grandmother’s collection while some are creations of her creativeness. “Most people want to do the dill pickle class, then once they try other items that we sample at class, they want to do those classes too, “explained Arin, “I do a lot of research. To me, if you are going to pay me money and take time out of your day to sit in here, I need to know what I am talking about. If you want to go home tomorrow and do it, you will be ready.”
411 S Ranch Road 1623
Stonewall, TX 78671