Fiona Cranston, known to many as Fee, is an old friend of mine. A good friend, one of those who will always show up – and rarely without a bottle of wine, a wheel of camembert or an amusing story to tell.
Consistently unpredictable, Fee is someone you can expect to do the unexpected. But when she called me up last year to tell me she was quitting her job in fashion, moving out of London and setting up a pickle company out of her parents kitchen, I couldn’t help but be a little surprised – and quite impressed.
For as long as I have known her, Fee has always been good with food. Whether its pies or padróns, roast dinners or ramen, she is always up for the challenge.
And, in spite of her less pickle-experienced friends (myself included) she would strap her giant jar of pickled eggs into the back of the car for weekend trips away; insistent that we all must try them.
Her love of pickles was inspired in part by her grandparents, who would pickle eggs for the family every Christmas. This, combined with a healthy obsession with all things japanese, is what has ultimately lead her to establish Cranston Pickled Ltd. There are, to date, over 14 different types of pickles ranging from cauliflower to cranberries; quince to coleslaw. And an additional four different types of pickles eggs.
The shift in lifestyle is not just in search of the perfect pickle, but also in search of a slower way of life. Having been brought up in the green belt of Oxford, with a garden that backs on to fields, fee’s return to Oxford is a move reflected not just in her products, but also in her contentment.
All the ingredients she uses are fresh, seasonal and locally sourced, her eggs are free range from local farmers and there is no single use plastic involved in her process. The pickles are sold in glass jars of all sizes, all of which can be reused or recycled. Fee even encourages customers not to throw out their pickle juice, reminding them it can be used again for home pickling or even put in cocktails (seriously).
Ironically, despite her move ‘back to the country,’ she has never been busier. With orders from pubs and restaurants across Oxford, as well as Christmas markets galore, she is well and truly pickled off her feet. You can find out more about her products, her methods and her vision on her website.