Monday, June 3, 2013

Yeah, You Can Pickle That! Summertime Pickled Strawberries.


   Strawberry season is in full swing here in Sonoma. It seems that every yard patch and roadside stand is filled with delicious berries. Now I have to admit here that strawberries are not my favorite fruit. Never have been. I think I grew up eating too many wooden, tasteless, over-sized and under-ripe berries as a kid. You know, those supermarket specials that our moms always brought home. Good looking and red on the outside but seriously underwhelming in the flavor department.

   One of the things I learned about buying berries is smell. Yeah, I am the lady you see sniffing everything before I buy it. That goes for the Farmers Market as well as any ordinary store. I've always found that if one can't smell it, one can't taste it. But even when you've located great berries, there's only so many shortcakes and tarts and crumbles, one can make. I was getting bored so I wondered, can these things be pickled??

   Turns out yeah, they can.

   I've always macerated strawberries in balsamic vinegar and drizzled them over vanilla ice cream, but I was looking for something a bit different. I'd recently been given a bottle of Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar by the people at Sonoma Harvest.
 

It seemed the perfect ingredient to use for pickling strawberries, but I wondered if it would work. Was pickling strawberries something anyone was doing??? Once I'd done some research it seemed that there were a whole lot of strawberry pickelers out there, each with their own way of doing things.

    So I figured why not try pickling my strawberries the same way that I pickle cherries. Since strawberries are a lot more delicate in structure than cherries I wouldn't need to go through the entire canning process. We'd be eating them within a few days and they'd only need to be kept in the fridge a short time. It sounded doable. It also needed to be damn doable since we are having the house tented and all of my pantry was disappearing into boxes. I didn't have a lot of time. Turns out this doesn't take much time.

Pickled Strawberries



Here's What You Need: 

2 pints of  fresh strawberries
2 peeled thin slices of ginger root
6 black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
5 whole green cardamom pods slightly crushed
3/4 cup strawberry balsamic vinegar
3/4 cold cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 sprig of fresh mint


Here's What To Do: 

Clean and sterilize a glass jar or bowl.
Wash and halve the strawberries. If they're large, quarter them. Set them aside.
Make sure you keep the glass jar hot as you'll be pouring boiling pickling spices into it and you don't want to shock the jar.
If you're using a heat-proof container that can take boiling liquids, don't worry about that.
Mix the vinegar, water, and sugar together in a pot and bring them to a boil.
When the vinegar, water, and sugar boil, take the glass jar from the hot water. Carefully.


Layer the mint, ginger, strawberries and spices in the hot jar or container.

Pour the boiling sugar, water and vinegar over everything.


Pop a lid on the jar or container, let it come to room temperature and then pop it in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.
When you're ready serve them up.
You can serve these strawberries with cheeses, ice cream of course, but I ladled it over whipped fresh ricotta cheese.

   The spice blend I used worked great, but feel free to try your own spices of choice. Star Anise might be good as well as some sort of chilies, whatever feels and tastes right. So this is a short and sweet recipe for strawberries. Coming up next, I took the classic Northern Italian fried zucchini blossoms I grew up with and gave them a gluten-free, Indian twist. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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