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Strawberries + Vinegar = Shrub, A Beverage Revelation

Pickled strawberries.

As I type this post, I’m sipping on a shrub. (Don’t worry; no backyard foliage is involved.) A shrub is a colonial-era sweet and sour syrup made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar believed to have been brought to the U.S by British settlers.

19th century writer Oliver Wendell Holmes references the shrub in his 1861 novel Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny:

“…but I do feel thirsty’ said the poor lady, ‘and I do think a glass of srub would do my my throat good: it’s dreadful dry. Mr.Peckham, would you be so polite as to pass me a glass of srub?”

The poor lady in question had the right idea; the shrub is a genuine thirst quencher and whets that whistle like nothing else. I had my first taste at a recent CAA meeting when fellow canner Kimberly McKittrick shared a jar of pickled strawberries that she had put up the previous summer. One sip and we were all hooked: Slightly sweet but really more spice-forward and a tad tangy, the syrup and its pickled fruit are a revelation.

Carbonated strawberry shrub.

We’ve seen historical references to the shrub as a mixer for alcohol, lemonade and water of the tonic-ed, carbonated, and still varieties. No doubt it is a pre-cursor to soda pop, which unfortunately has taken over the world and made the shrub obsolete. In fact, the shrub is part of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a list of food and drink items that have faded into obscurity in the light of industrial agriculture.

The recipe below comes from Wright Eats, written by Seattle-based food bloggers Dawn and Eric Wright. What follows are details for how to make your own shrub.
P.S. I am considering trying this with raspberries and blackberries, what with brambles on the horizon here in the Pacific Northwest.

Spiced Pickled Strawberries

Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling, by Jennifer MacKenzie
6 pints strawberries, hulled (preferably on the smaller side and just a touch under-ripe)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups cider vinegar

Puncture strawberries with fork tines and cut any large ones in half.

Combine remaining ingredients together in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Pour over prepared berries.

Cover the berries and let stand at a cool room temperature for at least six hours or overnight.
Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids.

Re-heat berries, gently stirring occasionally until strawberries are heated through but still hold their shape.

Gently spoon strawberries and hot pickling liquid into hot jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head space as necessary.  Wipe rim and place hot lid on jar, screwing band down until fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in hot water for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface or a cooling rack and let stand undisturbed until completely cool, about 24 hours.  Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.

Makes approximately 6 pints.

Use Up What You Put Up: Strawberry Shrub
2-3 tablespoons pickled strawberry syrup (and whole fruit if you like)
12 ounces sparkling water or club soda

Stir together in a tall glass, with or without ice, and enjoy. Add more syrup to taste.


P.S. I’m fairly certain that a vodka and soda would love to meet pickled strawberries…

One last thing: In the event that my shrub supply runs short, I am heartened to know of Tait Farm Foods, a family farm in Centre Hall, Pa., also the home to CAA friend Erin Hare.  I have had the pleasure of trying their raspberry shrub and it is an excellent stand-in for the homespun stuff.


Fermented Delicacies at Revel Restaurant

National Can it Forward Day has come and gone but that doesn’t mean the pickling action is over in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to working with Canning Across America I have the great privilege of working with amazing chefs and farmers at Seattle area markets and culinary events. Through this connection I’ve become involved with the Seattle’s Chef Collaborative chapter and therefore am afforded the opportunity to enjoy an amazing array of educational events offered up at area restaurants and farms.

Most recently I was invited to one of my favorite Seattle restaurants headed by Chef Rachel Yang, Revel, to partake in all things fermented. And while we didn’t eat everything you can ferment there was a pretty overwhelming array of preserved delicacies to try. Chef Yang and her co-conspirator and husband, Seif Chirchi have had a very healthy fermenting pantry going for years at their restaurant, Joule, in Wallingford and they favored us with an incredible dose of what they’ve been up to in that magic pantry.

Revel’s long chef’s counter was the perfect place for them to showcase an overwhelming pickled spread which featured:

Oysters with grapefruit and fennel
Cherries with Grand manier, cinnamon, orange, and star anise made into a rum cocktail
Marion berries dropped into sparkling wine
Beets with romanesco, coriander and lemon
Beef tongue with pepper and shallot (my personal favorite)
Baby carrots with cumin and chili
Nuoc cham cucumbers
Shrimp with corn and celery
Harissa pickled scapes
Pig’s feet and skin
Chowchow composed of corn, patty pan squash and turmeric

Baby turnip kimchi
Chioggia and golden beet water kimchi
Napa cabbage white kimchi
Cucumber and garlic chive kimchi
Fennel and apple kimchi

Apricot, mustard, shallot
Cherry, mustard, shallot

These pickled and preserved delicacies were served alongside 5 spice smoked duck breast, cured sardines and the largest rounds of cooked pork belly I’ve ever seen.

If reading about this spread makes you want to take a stab at fermenting, you might want to start with a favorite of mine Pat Tanumihardia’s classic cabbage kimchi recipe.

Happy Preserving!

CAA Contributor Jenise Da Silva is passionate about cooking, gardening and the “farm to school” movement. Jenise’s experience with canning started when she was a kid in the Midwest and she continues that tradition today. She has used her experience in community building, marketing & brand management to create many award-winning projects including FireFree which was recognized with top honors (the Golden Smokey Award) by the US Forest Service.  She authored the book Women and Money and launched a national facilitated discussion series (years before Suzie Orman penned a book under the same name).  Jenise is an avid supporter of community gardening and farmers markets and you can usually find her at Pike Place Market, in a PCC Cooks classroom, weeding in the Interbay P-Patch or at a farmers market in Seattle.


Use Up What You Put Up: Tuna Salad with a Pickled Accent

Seattle chef Diane LaVonne incorporating pickles into her grilled tuna salad.

As part of Can-It-Forward Day, three Seattle chefs led how-to demos on incorporating preserved goodies into your everyday cooking. Diane LaVonne, owner of Diane’s Market Kitchen and a friend of CAA since the beginning, showed us  how you can zip up regular ole tuna salad with some home-brined cucumber pickles. She’s pictured, above, under the tent at Pike Place Market, with a beautiful piece of Pacific Albacore tuna, which is now in season. The crowd loved her pickle-y spin, and she’s dished up the details for this goodie, below.

Diane LaVonne’s Tuna Salad (with a canned pickle-y twist)

Servings: 10

You can also make tuna cakes by forming the mixture into small patties (this can be done a day in advance and kept chilled). Heat a pan on high heat and add olive oil. Lightly dust the patties with flour and brown on both sides in the pan. Remember, this is for a textural element, the tuna has already been cooked until it’s food safe. Serve warm with homemade tartar sauce.


1 pound tuna steak (Diane prefers Pacific Albacore, which is sustainably caught)

2 tablespoons red onion, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

1 tablespoon capers, drained, minced

3 tablespoons dill pickle, minced (preferably from pickles you’ve canned yourself!)

1 tablespoon kalamata olives, finely chopped

6 tablespoons mayonnaise (Diane is a fan of Kewpie, a Japanese brand)

fresh lemon juice to taste

salt and pepper to taste


Cut the tuna fillet into pieces about 1 inch thick. Heat a pan on the stove over high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Pan sear the tuna on one side. (With fresh albacore this takes about 1 minute) then flip the steaks, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook until medium. (with fresh albacore this takes about 2 minutes)Cool and flake, combine with other dry ingredients. Add enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture together. Taste, adjust flavor with lemon juice, salt, or pepper if needed.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 71 Calories; 3g Fat (34.9% calories from fat); 11g Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 86mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.


Can-It-Forward Stars: Lucy Norris

In the days leading up to Can-It-Forward Day & our third annual Can-a-Rama kickoff, we’ll be giving a daily shout out to the dedicated group of folks who will be on location showing the ropes of everyday preserving and who have been instrumental to our mission of reviving the lost art of “putting up” food through safe food preservation and community building.


CAA member Lucy Norris.

That’s Lucy Norris. She’s crazy for pickles.  If you haven’t done so already, check out her book, Pickled: Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions (2003).  When Lucy isn’t at the stove, she’s busy running the Puget Sound Food Network, a part of Northwest Agriculture Business Center, which is dedicated to the economic viability and sustainability of food and farming in Northwest Washington. You can find more of her pickled work at BrinyLife and on Twitter: @lucymnorris

What inspires her to can:
My grandmothers are my muses. They both lived through the Great Depression, and both were gardeners and home canners. I have many fond memories of my family canning garden fresh produce during hot Texas summers. Good and clean food picked at the height of flavor, freshness and color inspires me to can every year. It’s such a treat to open up a jar in the dead of winter and taste summer all over again. Through the years people from all over the world have shared their family pickle recipes with me. Their stories inspire me to experiment with unfamiliar food preservation methods and spice combinations.

Lucy will be leading a demo on pickled jalapeno peppers Sunday, Aug. 14 (2 p.m. PST). (Go here for the full schedule of the Aug. 13-14 events at Pike Place Market in Seattle.)


Can-It-Forward Day Demo Schedule

Can It Forward


In our third season of spreading the love for “putting up” food, Canning Across America is cooking up its most exciting endeavor to date. Mark your calendars for the weekend of August 13-14, when Canning Across America will be preserving up a storm at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

As part of the first-ever National Can-It-Forward Day, Canning Across America members will teach the basics of water bath canning and some of the most popular summer canning recipes. The day-long event is free and open to the public and will include several how-to canning demos that will be streaming live on 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM PST. Viewers will be able to ask questions and post comments in real time. 



8:00 a.m.

Mixed Berry Jam Canning Demonstration featuring Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin by Jeanne Sauvage, Canning Across America, Gluten-free baker & author

9:00 a.m.

Cooking Demonstration by Kelsey Angell of The Pink Door Restaurant featuring Mixed Berry Jam

10:00 a.m.

Canning Demonstration of Kosher Pickles featuring Dill Sandwich Slices recipe from Fresh made by Judith Dern, and cookbook author

11:00 a.m.

Cooking Demonstration by Diane LaVonne of Diane’s Market Kitchen featuring Dill Sandwich Slices


Canned Tomatoes Packed in Own Juice Demonstration featuring the Ball® Salt for Pickling and Preserving by Brook Hurst Stephens, Blogger,

1:00 p.m.

Cooking Demonstration by Philippe Thomelin of Olivar Restaurant featuring Canned Tomatoes Packed in Own Juice

2:00 p.m.

Mixed Berry Jam Canning Demonstration featuring Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin by Jeanne Sauvage, Canning Across America, Gluten-free baker & author

3:00 p.m.

Pepper Jelly Canning Demonstration featuring Ball® RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Pectin by Shannon and Jason Jason Mullett-Bowlsby, Urban gardeners, canners, DIY masters & authors


The preserving celebration continues Sunday, August 14, with more free and open-to-the-public demos from Seattle’s most seasoned canners. It also marks the kick-off to Canning Across America’s third Can-a-Rama, a week of home canning parties and seasonal preserving nationwide.


Apricot-Raspberry Jam Demonstration by Rebecca Staffel, of Deluxe Foods, a Seattle artisanal preserves company

2:00 p.m.

Pickle Jalapeno Chile Peppers by renowned pickle expert Lucy Norris

If you do not live in Seattle area, we encourage you to host a party in your in your neighborhood and watch Can-It-Forward Day Web TV on August 13th! Sign up for Can-It-Forward Day here.


Pickling with Mom

I hadn’t canned since 1986, according to records. (My mom, my pickling partner and methodical note-taker, jotted down the last date).  Though that was nearly a quarter-century ago, the memories of pickling rush clearly forward in my mind. First we’d drive to the local fruit market to pick out dill fronds taller than my 9-year-old frame, collect bags of warty cucumbers, and tack on a few Walla Walla sweets onions.

Once home, it was on to prepping the fixin’s: sterilizing the jars in the dishwasher, slicing the onions, scrubbing clean the finger-sized cucumbers.  Next up: creating an assembly line of garlic and onions, spices, cucumbers, and brine. Finally it was time for my favorite part–the actual packing of the pickles.  I’d reach my hand into the bottom of the quart-sized jar to place a slab of onion as a base.  Then sprinkle in the spices, fold in the dill, and tightly pack the cucumbers (bending a few ever so gently to nudge them under the rim of the jar).  And finally (carefully!) ladling in the hot brine.  Mom usually did this step while I watched the liquid seep and settle into empty spaces, buoying the peppercorns to the top.  We’d seal up the whole mess with a lid (warmed in a bubbling pan of water to activate the rubber) and wait for the tell-tale “ping!” to indicate the seal had set.

My mom made these pickles as an annual tradition for nearly two decades.  I joined the mix only a few times, once I stood at least tall enough to reach the countertop to help assemble.  In 1986, we even used cucumbers from our own garden that year–though our bounty was noticeably smaller than years prior; only a few quarts rather than a few dozen as in years past.  1986 was also the summer after my dad passed away.  I don’t remember a lot else about those first years of just mom and me, though I can imagine my mom was trying to stay busy to keep her mind occupied and off of our loss.

By starting the pickling process in early spring–planting the cucumbers–then tending to the little guys all through summer, we stayed focused.   And, at the end, reaped an edible reward.   It also was likely an exercise in frugality.  Back then,  pickling cucumbers only cost 17 cents per pound; one finished  jar cost approximately one fifty-cent piece.  Time, as it is wan to do, lapsed.  I got more involved in summer swimteam and school.  There wasn’t the time to grow our crops; and, unless we didn’t document it, we didn’t even get to the market to buy the pickling ingredients and make a batch.  Life was too full.

Last summer, with a touch of nostalgia in my heart and newfound time due to reduced hours at work, the notion of making pickles re-entered my brain.  My mom was excited.  So much so that she went to the market to get the ingredients without me.  Supply and demand aren’t what they used to be in regard to pickle cost.  Despite a growing interest in urban farming and homestead crafts, we paid a pretty penny for our pickling gear:  In 2010 for us, a finished quart jar of pickles cost about $3.50.  And so we stood, side by side (now the same height), assembling our production line: spices, vegetables, brine, and packed our pickles.
One of my favorite spots for pickle supplies in the northend or eastside of Seattle is Bothell’s Yakima Fruit Market .   Our recipe didn’t call for this step (rather, we just simmered the  lids in water to activate their rubber seal), but for safety jars should be boiled in hot water for 20-some minutes.  For variety, you can safely alter the seasonings in a recipe.  Our pickling spice contain a mélange of peppers, mustard seed, and coriander.  Next time I might throw in some red pepper flakes for a kick. 

CAA Contributor Amy Duchene is a Seattle-based food and lifestyle writer and the author of Amy Dishes. She has contributed to Three Imaginary Girls, Seattle Bride Magazine, and The Rocket. She loves pickles so much that she uses “Pickle” as a term of endearment for her cat. Follower her on Twitter @amydishes.


National Pickle Day, November 14, 2009

Photo by cafemama

Photo by cafemama

Hey folks! It’s National Pickle Day! A day devoted to pickling is designed for preserving folks like us. It’s the perfect time to make pickles, eat pickles, or decide what homemade pickled items we want to give as a gifts.

Almost anything can be pickled. A pickle is: “An edible product, such as a cucumber, that has been preserved and flavored in a solution of brine or vinegar” (definition from Although almost any food can be pickled–don’t forget that Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers–the food that we in the US usually call “pickles” are most often pickled cucumbers. And, there is a whole range of pickled cucumbers on our shelves, with dill pickles and bread and butter pickles being the most commonly known. And there are food items other than pickled fruits and vegetables to explore, like pickled pig’s feet and pickled eggs.

Of course, pickling can be said to apply to humans, as well.  We can be “in a pickle,” which means we are in some sort of trouble, and we can be “pickled,” which means we have had too much to imbibe.

What have you been pickling? Let us know! Don’t forget that we have many pickle recipes on our recipe page–check them out!


Recipe Spotlight: The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook

Asian GM

We are honored that  Pat Tanumihardja has shared with us a sneak peak of two of her recipes from her upcoming book,  The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens, (Sasquatch Books, October 2009). Check them out!

Chinese Cucumber and Carrot Pickles

Cabbage Kimchi


Recipe Spotlight: Lucy Norris’s Mixed Summer Pickles

Lucy Norris, author of Pickled: Fruits, Roots, More… Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions (2003), has kindly shared her recipe for:

Mixed Summer Pickles

Check it out!


The Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm

photo by Sara Remington

photo by Sara Remington

I knew I would love the Nitty Gritty Dirty Farm long before I saw it. How could you not? Its proprietors—a newly minted minister and a mandolin-playing music teacher—had found each other in midlife and set up housekeeping and farming in Harris, Minnesota. To a California gardener like me, farming in Minnesota sounds daunting enough. But for them to be living openly as a lesbian couple in rural Minnesota—not a red state, but close—must present its own little hurdles.

When I showed up at the farm, the table was set for lunch, with bandanas for napkins, jelly jars for water glasses, a bowl of homemade bread-and-butter pickles, and three kinds of homemade catsup. Robin brought her just-baked hamburger buns to the table, Gigi carried burgers in from the grill—from their own meat, of course—and the young farm interns, sweaty and dirty, gathered around the table and joined hands to say grace.

The yellow dilly beans didn’t come out from their shelf in the crawl space under the farmhouse until lunch the next day, by which time I had learned that Robin—the minister—was a tireless preserver. On her bookshelf was a dog-eared and annotated copy of Putting Food By , but many of her recipes now reside in her memory. When you grow up on a Minnesota dairy farm and begin cooking at the age of nine, you know a thing or two about stocking a pantry.

I was visiting Robin and Gigi for a forthcoming book on eating locally. And boy, was I in the right place. These two eat almost nothing that doesn’t come from their farm, including the maple syrup. Their dilly beans, when I made them, looked so pretty in the jar I almost hated to eat them. But they are just the right zippy complement to tacos from the taco truck, my favorite Saturday lunch.

Janet Fletcher, Canning Across America Contributor
Janet is a Napa Valley food writer and the author of Fresh from the Farmers’ Market and the forthcoming Eating Local: The Cook’s Companion from Land to Table, by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel, Spring 2010).

Recipe for Pickled Wax Beans With Fresh Dill