When you think of preserving sweet fruits like strawberries, The most obvious is, well, preserves. Since that does not involve fermentation, that was a non-starter. WINE! I once watched Sandor Katz make a country wine from strawberries during my stay at his residency program, so that was the next idea.
Lactic acid fermentation of fruits like strawberries is difficult, due to their high sugar content (which tends to ferment into alcohol) and because of their naturally high acidity (pH around 3). Now you can make a fast fruit chutney and get some lactic acid fermentation. But green strawberries have more starch and less sugar content than their ripe counterparts. They behave more like cucumbers or other vegetables. I found some “quick-pickled” recipes (made with vinegar) to get some inspiration on the spices, but tried brining them instead.
We did manage to get ripe berries into a strawberry sauerkraut by dehydrating them first.
Now, are we saying pickled green strawberries are this year’s darling ingredient, like Brussels Sprouts were last year? It’s too early to say, but we have seen them making guest appearances on the menus of trendy spots around town. Of course, we’re leap-frogging the trend as usual by fermenting them rather than quick-pickling (learn the difference!)
Eventually I did get fermentation activity, and the green berries softened up nicely. They still had a lot of crunch, like a cucumber, with just an essence of berries.
- 1¼ to 1½ lbs. fresh green strawberries
- 2 ripe strawberries
- 4 bay leaves (dried)
- 5 slices of orange peel
- 2 Tablespoons/30mL raw apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 1½ cups filtered water
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Dilute sea salt into water to make brine.
- Remove leafy tops from strawberries and slice in half lengthwise.
- Add strawberries to a quart-sized mason jar.
- Add brine, orange peel, bay leaves, allspice and apple cider vinegar.
- Insert plastic lid or other object which will keep the strawberries submerged in the brine.
- Close the lid tightly (or use airlock) and set on kitchen counter.
- After 3 days (if not using airlock), see if fermentation has begun by "burping" the jar to release pressure.
- Ferment another 2-4 days, burping occasionally. The strawberries will soften further.
- Put in refrigerator when the strawberries have softened to your liking.
I think they go well with a creamy mild cheese (think brie or camembert), on a cheese or charcuteries plate, sliced on a sandwich, sprinkled into a green salad, as a cocktail garnish, or simply stirred into some yogurt or porridge.
How would you use them, Fermenters? Add your comments below!