When asked to host a fermentation demo for Suzie’s Farm‘s 2013 Strawberry Jam here in San Diego, I had to think about all the ways strawberries are preserved. 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 at one of his wonderful workshops, so that was the next idea. (We are making 6 gallons for this year’s festival, which will be ready to drink in 2014!)
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 such as Nate’s Garden Grill. Of course, we’re leap-frogging the trend as usual by fermenting them rather than quick-pickling (learn the difference!)
Lactic acid fermentation of 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). But green strawberries seem to have less sugar content than their ripe counterparts. So I found some “quick-pickled” recipes (made with vinegar) to get some inspiration on the spices, but tried brining them instead.
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 4-7 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), sliced on a sandwich, sprinkled into a salad, or simply stirred into some yogurt or porridge.
How would you use them, Fermenters? Add your comments below!