A family going on three generations of crafting pickles
The Horman family has been distributing their Horman’s Best pickles for three generations throughout Long Island and New York City. Now they have recently opened up their second store location in Glen Cove, named Pickle Island. It began when Nick Horman Jr’s grandfather, Joe Horman, “was in one career and that didn’t work out. So he decided to buy a pickle route, and that’s how it started back then,” stated Horman Jr.
He majored in philosophy at Providence College and obtained his MBA from Adelphi University. “A part of my dream at that time was to become a philosophy professor. I thought I might as well mix the two worlds together.” This led to their concept of Picklosophy being used to produce their pickles.
The goals Horman has for his family’s brand is to focus on their Glen Cove and Bayville store locations and develop more locations in the future. He enjoys the concept of making his stores a place to unwind. “When I was a kid, we had places to go while growing up,” he said. “I definitely want to get more arcade games, and have a place people can come hang out. Play some good music, eat some good food and maybe open another one.” Their stores not only offer pickles, they also have hot dogs, homemade dips, an assortment of snacks, drinks, comic books and more.
They have developed more than 15 varieties of pickles. The most popular pickles are the Kosher Dill, Classics, Full Sour, and Half Sour. “For the sweet ones, our Red Flannel, Sweet Chips, Honey Mustard and Brown Butter. I really like our pickled asparagus, it’s a sweet and hot one and what’s really popular this year is our pickled red onions.”
The daily ingredients used stem from various sources, which are constantly undergoing a quality-control process. They work with certain farmers to produce the best cucumbers, they examine the quality starting from the seeds to when the cucumbers are ready to be picked on the vines. “I will get local produce because I do the farmers markets. So I have relationships with a lot of the farmers. That’s where I get some of the different vegetables I use, when they’re in season. For the pickling spice we work with a local spice guy out in Brooklyn. They do a special blend for us. We use whatever is the higher quality and support local first.”
The way their cucumbers undergo the brining process compared to other competitors is unique and has been accomplished through several years of pickle-making experience passed down from one generation to the next. “Everything is barrel packed,” Horman Jr. explained. “The ones in the store are brined most of the time in the jars. What people don’t realize is that they stuff it really hard, because the cucumber shrinks, so the cucumber to brine is 30/70 in the jar. You do them in barrels, it’s 50/50. So they’re always going to taste better.”
“The ones in the store are trying to mass produce it,” he continued. “Every batch of produce you get is different, so there are variables. Different sugar levels, whatever the temperature is outside is going to change the rate of fermentation and you just have to watch them. That’s the art and science part of it.”
The shelf life of Horman’s Best pickles can last 3-4 months. They claim to never truly spoil, the product only loses its crunchy texture. “There’s no hazard with these kinds of pickles, canning pickles on the other hand, if somebody doesn’t put the right pH, you can get botulism,” Horman Jr. said “But we don’t can anything, everything is refrigerated packed.”
After the cucumbers are finished growing on the vines and plucked, they are continuously kept cold going forward. Produce is hydro-cooled, which is when it is immersed in chilled water. During the cucumber’s transformation into pickles, they are kept cold to maintain freshness. This differs from other companies that apply heat to the pickles during the pasteurization step, which damages the freshness of the cucumbers.
Horman believes that there is a pickle for everyone, even for those who claim not to enjoy them.
“I think there is a pickle for everybody,” Horman Jr. said “Maybe they had a bad experience, but I’ve seen people converted from trying all these different flavors we have. It depends. Some people are sour pickle people, some are sweet ones, some people are in the middle with the Kosher dill. Some of them don’t have vinegar, so if you don’t like vinegar, like the Half Sour, I think they need to give it a shot.”
People are welcome to visit Horman and his team on 18 Forest Ave. in Glen Cove, and on 12 Ludlam Ave. in Bayville, Sundays to Fridays from noon to 6 p.m.
“Come here to get a good pickle on a stick. For the first couple of weeks, I’ll be doing a free pickle for new customers.”