Pickle Pie - Gastro Obscura
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Sweets

Pickle Pie

A motel restaurant in a tiny Utah town bakes this sweet and sour treat.

Along state route 24 in south-central Utah, the Sunglow Restaurant and Motel sells the same unconventional pies they’ve been known for since the 1960s. Located in the tiny town of Bicknell (population: 321, as of 2017), this eatery is situated 13 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park. A full assessment of flavor choices might leave you wondering if you’re looking at the right menu. Apart from classics such as apple or blueberry, you’ll find oatmeal, sour cream, buttermilk, avocado lime, pinto bean, and pickle pies.

Pickle pie is no gimmick; it’s a menu staple. Tasters say the initial impression reads like a mince pie. As you continue chewing, however, the spiced overtones fade into a distinct tanginess. The pie starts with a base of ground, sweet pickles, which get turned into filling by adding eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon extract, cream, and margarine. It’s then baked in a classic pie crust and served with a side of whipped cream.

The curious slices are the brainchild of chef Cula Ekker. When her brother built the motel back in 1965, she joined as a cook. Cula has since passed away, but she handed her recipes over to Bessie Stewart, who has worked at the Sunglow for more than three decades.

Bessie is known both for carrying on Cula’s legacy, as well as for once unloading the barrel of a .22 at her husband as he fled into the night. He escaped physically unharmed, and the couple reconciled and had four children together. But the incident earned her the nickname “the pistol-packing pastry chef.” When pressed about her pie crust, Bessie says pure pork lard, not gun-slinging, is the secret to her success.

Need to Know

An order of Sunglow's “pie sampler” will get you four half-slices of pie, including pickle, oatmeal, buttermilk, and pinto bean. 

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