Remember how last year it was freakishly warm super early last spring? Strawberry season came & went in the blink of an eye with that heat. This year, the opposite has happened – it’s just not warm enough for strawberries to ripen at many area berry patches, including the one in my own yard. Some of the berry patches have yet to open for the season – including my favorite, Middle River Farms, outside of Grottos. Considering it’s over in the Shenandoah Valley, which is always just a little bit behind us in the harvest, it’s not that much of a surprise. I’ve been chomping at the bit to pick some strawberries this year though. Maybe it’s the result of last week’s canning class, with it’s successful jam that Edie said was “almost as good as Daniel’s“. High Praise indeed. Or maybe it’s that we finished up the last of the freezer strawberries last week. Or maybe, it’s that it’s mid-May and I want fresh strawberries every day, because this is the time of year for them.
Whatever the reason, I decided to check out a new berry patch I’d heard about south of town, Seaman’s Orchard, outside of Roseland. Which is more than a little south of town – it’s south of Lovingston and closer to Lynchburg than it is Charlottesville. Price wise, their pick your own is more expensive than Middle River Farms, but still cheaper than Chile’s. And the view?
It was totally worth the drive.
But anytime that view is involved, I’m on board with whatever the plan is.
It took me almost no time to pick not quite 9 pounds of strawberries before I hit the road home.
Which brings us to the point of this post. What I did with those berries.
I keep hearing about pickled strawberries. Oh yes, you know I did.
First, I had to scour all my cookbooks for any sort of pickled fruit recipes. Then I began an internet search. If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed I pinned a few pickled strawberry recipes yesterday afternoon in my quest. There are a wide variety of strawberry pickle recipes out there – sweet & savory. I decided to try several, including ones I developed on my own.
I also had some asparagus I had picked up at the market on Saturday with the intent of trying my hand at pickling it. I figured I’d make an afternoon of it. First though, I had to do a jar, spice & vinegar inventory. Which turned into a field trip with Betty, in the form of a shopping expedition to Reid’s & Integral Yoga for supplies. Coming home to put those supplies away resulted into emptying out the spice cabinet as well as the one I keep oils & vinegars in. Major cleaning and purging followed, which then shifted to the fridge, where the dreges of stuff got tossed, including a batch of dill cucumber pickles I made last summer that I did not care for. And then I mopped the floor. The kitchen was so clean when Pat came home he mentioned it before even setting foot in it. (I also got mop happy and did both bathrooms. Ah, the pickle procrastination….)
I spent the rest of the evening reading and pondering strawberry pickles. Knowing the berries can get mushy when you cook them, I began to realize they probably needed to be a quick pickle. Most of the recipes I found reflected that, although I did find one that called for hot water bath processing. After a few chats bouncing ideas off of my family & neighbors and I came up with a plan.
On the left is a balsamic vinegar & basil pickle, on the right is a balsamic vinegar & lavender. The recipe is slightly based on this one. I’m going to let these two sit for a few days in the fridge.
I also did two jars of these mint pickled strawberries that calls for the pickles to go through the hot water bath process. The photos on the blog post show the berries looking fairly healthy, so I figured I’d give it whirl. I’ll let them sit a few days before popping one open.
At the very least, I’ll hopefully have some lovely, flavorful fruity vinegars to use in salad dressings.
Speaking of flavorful vinegar, I picked the chive blossoms today to make chive vinegar.
Covered them with vinegar and set them on the back of the snack table in the kitchen with my other fermenting goodies. I’ll need to spin it everyday for the next two weeks, but then I’ll have a lovely, pink, chive flavored vinegar.
While we were at Reid’s yesterday, this package caught Betty’s eye.
Pretty orange peppers. Certainly I could pickle those while I was at it, couldn’t I? Because they’d be quite nice to have around. Never mind that they are habaneros, Betty insisted on buying them to be pickled. Onto my pickling list they went, right behind the asparagus.
While the pickles cool, I’ve got a batch of jam bubbling away on the stove. While I don’t know that any strawberries from this picking session will make it into the freezer for next winter’s breakfast smoothies, I will have at least stocked us on jam and satisfied my curiosity about strawberry pickles. With most area patches not yet open, I still have plenty of time to gather more strawberries. And maybe try some more pickle ideas.