Quick Pickled Strawberries

Sweet business.  These strawberries are fabulous.

Okay, so you may know that I am participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge (you may also have noticed that I am behind in posting), and I am slipping this one in at the last minute.  People, April has been busy.

Before I tell you all about quick pickled strawberries, allow me a slight digression. April has seen us moving from a small duplex in our beloved neighborhood in Oakland to a house with a spectacular view overlooking Wildcat Canyon. We miss the walkability of our old neighborhood, but we love the fact we cannot hear the highway, and once I am fully healed, hiking is at our doorstep.  

Fully healed? Well, you see I was putting up curtains while standing on my cluttered desk (like you do). And I stepped back, thinking the chair I had used to climb onto said desk would be there. It was not. And then I was on the floor. And the only thing that happened was that I broke my tailbone. Seriously, it could have been so much worse, given that I fell from about five feet backwards. But it does mean I have had to hobble around for a while. I am entering week three of the healing process, and I finally feel as if I can walk normally again. However, as I discovered yesterday while organizing books, sitting on the hard floor is not yet an option. All this is to say, April has been surprising and perhaps a bit slower than anticipated.

So, shrubs from March (when we were prepping for the move) and quick pickles from April have had to wait. However, I have made both this week.  (Shrub post here.)  And I am so pleased. Because I love vinegar. Always have. To the point that I add it to my chili, I splash it on noodles, and let's just admit right here and now that I ate a lot of fish and chips and vinegar from takeaway shops when I studied in Ireland. And both shrubs and quick pickles prominently feature vinegar.

Quick pickles (also known as refrigerator pickles) are a simple pleasure. You can dig into a jar for a singular crisp spear of asparagus or green bean. You might chop some snappy carrots up to sprinkle into a coleslaw or layer bright, briny onions on a hamburger. And the best part is that they're, well, quick. You don't need to bust out the canning pot or swelter in a hot kitchen.  You don't need to sterilize jars or lug out any specialized equipment. Instead, you mix up some vinegar, water, spices or herbs, and then you wait a day. Then, your life is considerably better. Or at least mine is.

But I wanted something a little unexpected, so I went the quick-pickled fruit route. But what do you do with a pickled strawberry (besides eat it straight from the jar)? You put two-three berries in a glass of sparkling water (or with some mint, lime, and gin to go with that sparkling water--I won't judge). You put them atop an arugula, pistachio, and goat cheese salad (with some of the vinegar mixed with olive oil to make the dressing). You could spoon them over vanilla ice cream (I promise you won't be disappointed by the sweet-sour combination with the hint of tarragon and the duskiness of black pepper). These strawberries really are something to savor. 

Or eat a lot of and then make more. 


Quick Pickled Strawberries

Adapted from Marisa McClellan's Preserving by the Pint

Makes about 2 1-pint Jars

1 dry quart strawberries (about 1½ pounds)
¾ cup Champagne vinegar (or another low-acid vinegar so the strawberries can really shine)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2 sprigs tarragon (but thyme would be great, too)

1. Wash the strawberries, remove the stems and leaves, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.

2.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with ⅓ cup water, the sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Set over high heat and bring to a boil.

3.  Divide the tarragon between 2 pint jars, and then add half of the chopped berries to each. Once the brine has boiled, pour it over the strawberries. Let the pickles cool until room temperature, and then place a lid on the jar and refrigerate. Allow the pickles to rest of 24 hours before eating.


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