Strawberries are around for such a short time each year (at least the good, locally grown ones) that it's always good to have a few ways to preserve them. You can freeze them, of course, or make strawberry jam. But if your tastes lean toward liking a mix of savory with your sweet flavors, we suggest pickled strawberries.
Pickling is one of those preservation techniques that seems a little daunting at first, but quick pickling is easier than using fermentation. Quick pickles are also called refrigerator pickles because the pickling magic happens when you make a brine out of vinegar and salt mixed with water and let vegetable or fruit sit in that brine for a few days in the refrigerator.
Basics of Quick Pickling
You really can quick pickle almost any vegetable or fruit. Try blueberries or tomatoes, carrots or green beans. Once you have the basic pickling recipe down, you can tweak to add spices, seasonings or sweeteners to suit your taste. You can use basic white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or any other kind of vinegar you like. Because you're not canning the food to be long-term shelf-stable, you have a lot more flexibility with the recipe as long as you keep the vinegar and salt constant.
Quick pickled strawberries blend the sweetness of spring berries and the tartness of vinegar for a treat that goes well on goat cheese, ice cream, or salad greens, in grilled cheese sandwiches or mixed in yogurt. Spoon in on top of some ricotta on good bread and you've got an outstanding party appetizer.
How to make Pickled Strawberries
Bon Appétit has a good basic quick pickling recipe. For a pound of fresh strawberries, you'll need 1 1/2 cups of white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2/3 cup water and two tablespoons of kosher salt. Place everything but the strawberries into a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar and salt. While the mixture is heating, wash and hull the strawberries, then place strawberries into a quart jar (or multiple pint jars).
You can pour the warm liquid mixture over the strawberries, or you can wait until it has cooled to room temperature. Some recipes note that the warmer liquid is, the softer the strawberries will become. Once all the hulled berries are covered with liquid and the jars are cool, refrigerate the jars for at least a day before trying your creation.
When pickling strawberries, you can keep it simple, or you can add in seasonings like black pepper or a vanilla bean. Think of your favorite strawberry recipes, and you can bring those same flavors into the pickled strawberries. For a really fun twist, try using green strawberries.
The total time you can keep pickled strawberries in the refrigerator is a month, but we're betting a jar won't last that long!