At Food Swap Silicon Valley’s recent meeting at a Sunnyvale home, group Founder Kari Chinn brought jars of pickle salt to trade for other food items. Chinn explained that she can use pickle salt to rim a glass for a margarita or add to salad dressing and dips. At the meeting, pickle salt on popcorn gave the popcorn an extra zing with a subtle flavor of seaweed. To prepare the pickle salt, Chinn had to dehydrate pickles, ground them to a powder and add them to kosher salt.
“I started this group in October 2015 with my best friend to create a community around food makers and food creators — from gardeners to people who are food preservers to bakers or people who are starting out small businesses in food,” Chinn said.
“This event is about creative people getting together in the food community,” continued Chinn. “The goal is for the group to meet once every two months. The idea is when you come to swap, understand that not everyone will be able to eat what you brought or be interested in it. People shouldn’t feel bad if someone says ‘no’ to what you offer, and people shouldn’t feel they have to say ‘yes.’ It’s a friendly environment. We exchange recipes. We’re more like a club. There are no fees involved to be a part of this.”
Items people have brought to Food Swap Silicon Valley’s meetings have included powders, salts, jams, chutneys, condiments, sauces, baked goods, honey, single serving meals, and fruits and vegetables from home gardens.
“Sometimes if people have an interesting item, they might show others how to use it,” Chinn said. “One of the parts I enjoy about the group is meeting creative people who are really passionate about food and are really curious about food. It’s fun to hear people’s stories about how they got started.”
According to Chinn, Food Swap Silicon Valley has also allowed participants to sample and learn about diverse foods, such as jalapeno jelly, pinot grigio jelly, Mexican pickle, Thai curry and fermented miso.
“Silicon Valley brings people from all around the world,” Chinn said. “It has been neat to learn about different food cultures and the things people bring from their homes to share.
Angela Amberden, co-host of the group and former executive chef, has been with this group for about two years. Items she has brought to past swaps have included spiced candied walnuts and umami dust, a seasoning powder made from dried oyster and a variety of mushrooms.
“Today I made oven-dried strawberries,” Amberden said. “It’s just strawberries I dried in the oven at a low temperature. It tastes like a healthy fruit snack. There’s no sugar added.”
Amberden recalled an item she enjoyed at the previous food swap.
“Someone brought a citrus fruit called Buddha’s hand citrus,” she said. “I’ve seen this in specialty grocery stores but I’ve never purchased them because they’re super expensive. It tasted like a mix between lemons, limes and clementines. They’re very fragrant.”
Visit www.facebook.com/foodswapsv to learn more about Food Swap Silicon Valley and to be notified about details for future meetings.