Learn how to pickle strawberries and prepare an easy elegant Pickled Strawberry Pepper Feta Salad
Do you have a cooking bucket list? A list of dishes and culinary techniques you would like to master (or at least attempt) someday? I do. I call it my “someday list”. Pickling was on that list. Here’s the story of how I crossed this preserving technique off my list to #MakeSomedayHappen. The do’s and don’ts I learned, expert advice I received from my favorite chef and tastemaker friends and the super easy and versatile recipe that now has me hooked on pickled strawberries. This Pickled Strawberry Pepper Feta Salad is perfect for Easy Entertaining.
Although I love pickled veggies – from artichokes to zucchini and everything in between – I have never pickled anything in my life, let alone pickled fruit! I was apprehensive but determined to get out of my comfort zone. What better way to do something that scares you than when you have friends to support you, an award-winning chef a mouse click away, and your favorite fruit (Florida Strawberries)?
I’m excited I got to finally cross “pickling” off my someday list and I get to share it with you. I know you’ll love this recipe whether you’re a novice or expert ‘pickler’ (Is this a word? What do you call someone who pickles?)
Florida Strawberries, known as the winter strawberries, are absolutely fantastic this time of year (season is November – April). They are so flavorful that preserving them for use year round is the smart thing to do. I buy them every chance I get, especially when on sale (I got 3 lbs for $5 recently!). I eat them by the handful and freeze some in vacuum-sealed bags to make my favorite cocktails (Strawberry Bee’s Knees!) and smoothies year round.
I learned pickling Florida strawberries is another great way to preserve them because it allows more versatility to use in savory and sweet dishes. Fresh berries preserved with fresh herbs are great for snacks, relishes and garnishes, on cheese boards, burgers, atop pork chops, crisp goat cheese crostini and even desserts. I used these in the salad and also atop crostini. Both delicious! Have you pickled strawberries before?
This refreshing Pickled Strawberry Pepper Feta salad is a guaranteed hit at your next party. The tangy pickled strawberries, the sweet dressing, the peppery and creamy feta all play together so well! It’s an intoxicating combination.
HOW TO PRESERVE STRAWBERRIES
Ask The Experts:
What’s a foodie to do when she wants to tackle a new cooking technique or dish she’s never done before? Reach out to the experts. Social media is the perfect conduit for this.
Not ashamed to admit I’ve cooked many meals while on twitter and Facebook asking for advice. (My first Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day was prepared with assistance via tweet from Ireland’s Master Chef Kevin Dundon of Raglan Road Irish Pub!)
For my Pickled Strawberry Salad, I knew immediately I needed to get in touch with Chef Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon, an American Gastropub located in Downtown Orlando, which belongs on everyone’s “Must Eat” List. Highly respected as one of the top advocates for eating and sourcing fresh local ingredients, Kathleen practiced ‘farm to table’ before it was trendy.
Despite being an incredibly busy chef, restaurant owner, wife and mother, who by the way, was one of two Orlando chefs just recently nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South (woo hoo!), she graciously took the time to respond to my desperate plea for advice as she was buzzing from “behind the line”.
I had never heard of eating green strawberries until I visited strawberry growers in nearby Plant City during a fantastic tour with Florida Strawberry Growers. Who knew green strawberries were a thing?
Then, Kathleen Blake created a pickled green strawberry salad, which blew me away. To see the connection from the farm to the table literally come full circle was special. One of the many reasons I love visiting farms and learning from farmers. You become a more informed consumer. You learn what to look for in your grocery store, farmers market and restaurants. I don’t think I would have appreciated Kathleen’s inventive salad as much as I did had it not been for my trip to the farm.
Visiting U-pick farms in your area this time of year is a great way to enjoy a day in the fields with friends and family. Plus, you end up with the best fruit. Here’s some U-pick tips from Florida Strawberry Growers website.
TIPS FOR PICKLING STRAWBERRIES:
From The Chef:
Kathleen Blake offered this advice:
1. Look for firm fruit. Green strawberries are perfect for traditional pickling because they are firm and not as sweet. First of the season ripe berries are very good for sweet pickling.
2. Use rice wine vinegar for fruits. (White vinegar works when pickling vegetables but not as good for fruit)
3. Use a splash of fish sauce for pickling tart fruits instead of salt for an elevated umami quality.
4. Use different dry spice mixtures depending on the time of year.
5. Don’t buy prefab pickling spice. The clove and allspice can overwhelm what you are pickling. Make your own instead. The classic pickle mix is mustard seeds, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.
From Sunday Supper Tastemakers:
I also reached out to my fellow Sunday Supper Tastemakers for some advice. (Don’t miss all the great recipes for various preserving methods below.) That’s one of the greatest benefits about being a part of this creative culinary community. Foodie friends to ask for advice are just a quick tweet or Facebook message away.
Cindy and Marion had these wise words of wisdom:
Cindy Kerschner of Cindy’s Recipes & Writings says “Make sure to use a heat approved jar like a Mason jar. Pour the hot brine into the hot jar. Also make sure to totally cover the fruit with liquid. Cool on the counter, then refrigerate.”
Marion Myers of Life Tastes Good says “don’t toss the brine after you use the pickled strawberries. It can be used in salad dressings in place of vinegar”
From Florida Strawberry Website:
The Florida Strawberry Growers website is chock-full of information and great recipes from Strawberry Sue.
Here’s a few do’s and don’ts I learned from my trials and tribulations and the Florida Strawberry Growers website.
1. Do Pick Carefully. Select berries that are firm, plump, fragrant with bright glossy red appearance. Fringed caps should be bright green and look fresh.
2. Do Use Right Away. Fresh strawberries are highly perishable. Pickle as soon as you buy them (or pick them). Strawberries don’t ripen after they are harvested. What this means is: Don’t keep in your refrigerator for an extended period of time (no more than 3-4 days).
3. Do Experiment with your recipe. The possibilities are endless. You can use a variety of herbs (thyme, rosemary, chili pepper, tarragon, vanilla bean, fennel) and a variety of vinegars (apple cider, sherry, balsamic, champagne, rice vinegar) to create different flavor profiles.
4. Do Get Creative. Use pickled strawberries in a variety of dishes. In a salad, cheeseboard, with various cheeses on toasted crostini, as a relish for burgers, as a topping for pork chops or chicken.
5. Look for the “Fresh From Florida” label on your strawberry packaging. Not all strawberries are from Florida and they are the juiciest tastiest berries this time of year!
What’s your favorite way to preserve strawberries? I hope you’ll give this recipe for Pickled Strawberry Pepper Feta Salad a try. Let me know how your preserving adventures go!
PICKLED STRAWBERRY RECIPE
Yields (2) pint jars
1 pound ripe firm Florida strawberries, stems removed
1½ cups white balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Demerara cane sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 springs fresh thyme
½ cup water
(2) pint size heatproof glass jars
1. Wash strawberries carefully, remove the stems.
2. Slice smaller berries in half and larger ones in quarters.
3. Place half strawberries and (2) thyme sprigs into each heatproof glass jar. Set aside.
4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine ingredients. Heat until the sugar and salt dissolves and mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
5. Pour the hot brine vinegar mixture over the strawberries. The liquid should cover most or all of the strawberries.
6. Let the jars cool to room temperature on the countertop. Then seal jars and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours).
7. Once the pickling process is completed to your satisfaction, remove the strawberries from their brine, give them a quick rinse, pat dry and use as desired.
PICKLED STRAWBERRY & PEPPER FETA SALAD RECIPE
Toss this simple elegant salad of peppery arugula, creamy feta with fresh cracked pepper, crisp English cucumbers, sweet fresh strawberries and tangy pickled strawberries. Serve for dinner with your favorite grilled steak, chicken breast or pork chop.
5 oz fresh arugula
4 oz creamy feta cheese, whole
½ English cucumber, thin sliced
8 fresh ripe Florida strawberries (if in season), sliced
8 pickled Florida strawberries
½ fresh baguette bread, sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pickling strawberry brine juice
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
pinch sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Whisk olive oil, honey, pickling juice and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toss arugula, strawberries and cucumbers with dressing
3. Add fresh cracked pepper and fresh thyme leaves atop whole feta cheese, rough chop into large chunks.
4. Plate salad and top with crumbled feta cheese.
5. Slice baguette and toast, drizzle with olive oil once toasted. Use as garnish. It can also be served as crostini with feta and pickled strawberry on top.
Sunday Supper Tastemaker Recipes
Check out these great recipes featuring preserved Florida Strawberries from the Sunday Supper Tastemakers:
- Strawberry Cheesecake Icebox Pie by Food Done Light
- Strawberry Eton Mess by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Strawberry Compote Pavlova Parfaits by My Sweet Zepol
- Strawberry Crepe Cake with Homemade Strawberry Syrup by Recipes, Food and Cooking
- Strawberry Crumble Bars by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Dark Chocolate Strawberry Granola Clusters by Simple and Savory
- Strawberry Dust Grilled Pork Tenderloin by Gluten Free Crumbley
- Strawberry Granola with Dried Strawberries by Dizzy Busy and Hungry
- Strawberry Pancakes Recipe by Life Tastes Good
- Strawberry S’mores by The Crumby Cupcake
- Strawberry Frosted Baked Cardamom Donuts by The Chef Next Door
- Strawberry Mocha Yogurt Smoothie by Casa de Crews
- Strawberry Parfait by Desserts Required
- Strawberry Smoothie Bowls by Family Foodie
- Strawberry Swirl Coffee Cake by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Balsamic Pickled Strawberries Sundae by A Mind “Full” Mom
- Pickled Strawberry Pepper Feta Salad by Go Epicurista
- Shortcake with Vanilla Bean Pickled Strawberry by Authentically Candace
- Sparkling Strawberry Cocktail by Sunday Supper Movement
- Strawberry Detox Vinegar Drink by Cricket’s Confections
- Tuna Burger with Pickled Strawberry Relish by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Florida Strawberry Growers Association in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own. I only share with you products I love and experiences worth celebrating to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen