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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We’ve seen historical references to the shrub as a mixer for alcohol, lemonade and water of the tonic-ed, carbonated, and still varieties.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.


It’s a Can-A-Rama!

Our preserving celebration launches today with our third annual Can-a-rama, a week of home canning parties and seasonal preserving nationwide. From August 14th to August 20th, we encourage you all to gather with your friends and family around the canning kettle.

Today in Seattle, we have more free and open-to-the-public demos at Pike Place Market. At Noon, join us for an Apricot-Raspberry Jam Demonstration by Rebecca Staffel, of Deluxe Foods, a Seattle artisanal preserves company, or at 2:00pm to learn how to can Pickled Jalapeno Peppers by renowned pickle expert Lucy Norris.

If you can not join us in Seattle to kick off our Can-A-Rama, Rebecca and Lucy have graciously shared their recipes.






Garlic Scape Pickle Party

Pickled garlic scapes (left) and pickled garlic. Photo: Erin Hare.

Guest contributor Erin Hare is an at-home mom living in the central mountain area of Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When not kid-wrangling or trying to keep the dust bunnies at bay, Erin enjoys DIY projects ranging from food preserving to home renovation construction.

At some point over the past 10 years, I was introduced to the garlic scape, a curly shoot that hard-necked garlic bulbs send up each spring. I’m guessing that Kim O’Donnel (via her former “Might Appetite” chat on first inspired me to seek them out for use in her pesto recipe; these days, I wait for them to emerge in late May to declare that our valley in central Pennsylvania is finally warming up into early summer.

Garlic scapes. Photo: Flickr/Chiot's Run

My friend Tina Leitzel shows up at our local farmer’s market in the fall with beautiful braids of garlic, bulbs for eating, cloves for planting and all sorts of other treats from the allium family. Last year as I was purchasing garlic braids to carry me through the winter, I asked her to keep me in mind when “scape season” arrived. I was excited to receive a message from her two weeks ago asking me to meet her at the market, and she passed along two bags overflowing with curling verdant beauties. I had garlic scape pesto on my mind, as well as a new experiment: pickled garlic scapes.

I’ve been tackling preserving projects since last summer, when I’d often have too much bounty from our CSA to consume in a week. Preserving blogger Marissa McClellan introduced me to the idea of small batch canning by repurposing my asparagus steamer to turn out quarter, half and pint jars of jams, relishes and a variety of pickled vegetables. Pickling garlic scapes seemed like a no-brainer and a great way to dust off my burgeoning food preservation skills for the coming canning season. I decided on putting up one pint (I had to save enough scapes for pesto, after all) to test out texture, and found a pickled scape blog post at The Deliberate Agrarian based on the “Dilly Bean” recipe from the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving. I was good to go.

First up, a handful of garlic scapes required a quick rinse and I trimmed them just under the flower heads. Using a clean one pint jar, I roughly measured the length of a garlic scape that would fit inside to where the jar started to curve into the neck, about 4 ½ inches. I cut scape after scape to length (sometimes getting two lengths per scape, reserving all miscellaneous lengths for another recipe) and stuffed them inside the jar until it was full, then removed all of the trimmed scapes to sterilize the jar prior to processing. Meanwhile the stove was going, keeping a very basic vinegar and salt brine hot, and my asparagus steamer was filled and almost ready to boil. I re-stuffed the trimmed garlic scapes along with two split garlic cloves and some dried dill into the hot pint jar, and slowly filled the jar with the brine trying to remove bubbles as I went. I left a ¼-inch head space before adjusting the two-piece cap, popped the pint into my asparagus basket and lowered it into the boiling water for  10 minutes of processing.

The garlic scapes came out of the water bath slightly shriveled and a shade of army green. I’m curious what they’ll taste like in a few weeks when I plan to open them up to serve on a cold pickle-platter at a family reunion. I also hope to reserve a few to dice up into small bits to use like a caper in a cold, roasted red pepper and goat cheese salad. Or maybe they’ll be great in martinis. Or maybe I’ll just eat them right out of the jar, no accompaniment needed. Time and taste buds will tell, but I’m sure that towards the end of next May, I’m going to be eagerly waiting the call from Tina that the garlic scape season is once again upon us.

Pickled Garlic Scapes
Adapted from the “Dilly Beans” recipe from the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving
Makes approximately 1 pint

1 bunch garlic scapes (approximately what you can wrap two hands around, shoots aligned)
2 tablespoons canning & pickling salt
1 cup vinegar (white vinegar or cider vinegar is fine, as long as the acidity is 5 percent)
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, split
½ teaspoon dried dill

Insert empty jar in a sauce pan and add water until the jar is covered by at least one inch. Remove jar, cover pan and bring up to a boil.

Clean and trim garlic scapes below flower head, cut to 4 ½-inch lengths. Use straightest parts of garlic scape as much as possible, though curved portions are also fine. Pack lengthwise into clean one-pint jar until full. Remove garlic scapes and sterilize jar.

Combine salt, vinegar and water in sauce pot and bring to a boil. Keep hot.

Add dill, split garlic and trimmed garlic scapes to hot jar.

Slowly pour hot liquid into jar, allowing small spaces to fill and air bubbles to rise, leaving ¼-inch head space. Insert a non-metallic flat-edged spatula between the food and the side of the jar to remove air bubbles.

Adjust two-piece cap. Process pint jar for 10 minutes in boiling water.


Use Up What You Put Up: Jam Dot Cookies

Photo: Kim O'Donnel

We Canvolutionaries talk a lot about how to “use up what you put up” — how to incorporate your home preserved goodies into your everyday cooking and baking. Here’s a goodie I learned this spring from the wellness-minded folk at Golden Door spa in Esconido, Calif.   Believe it or not, this is a dairy-free and egg-free treat, and you’ll never know the difference, thanks to the healthy fats from the ground almond meal.  In the batch pictured above, I filled the cookies with last year’s blueberry (or was it blackberry?) jam, plus a satsuma marmalade I whipped up this winter with CAA Web editor Jeanne Sauvage.   I think you’ll agree they make great eye candy.

Jam Dot Cookies
Adapted from The Golden Door spa.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup oats (don’t use instant)
(Gluten-free option: Omit wheat flour, use 1 1/2 cups ground almonds and 1 1/2 cups oats)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil (grapeseed, safflower or sunflower all good choices)
1/2 cup good quality maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/2 cup of your favorite homemade jam or marmalade

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with oil spray or line it with parchment paper.

Using a food processor,  pulverize almonds and oats until you have a coarse meal. Remove and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add whole wheat flour and cinnamon, and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, add oil, maple syrup, orange juice and vanilla, and stir to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and mix well. Scoop batter with a 1-tablespoon measure onto prepared baking sheet.  Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, make an indentation into the middle of the cookie. Fill the middle with 1 teaspoon of jam/marmalade.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack. Will keep for about 5 days in an airtight container.  Cookie batter can be frozen, then thawed and filled as needed.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.



Recipe Spotlight: Pickles from Lisa DuPar

Looking for recipes for different kinds of pickles?  Look no further.  Lisa DuPar, of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro has shared two of her favorites with us.  Check them out!

Pickled Summer Bing Cherries

Pickled Red Onions


Recipes from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by Chef John Besh

MyNewOrleans_final cover2.inddWe are honored that Chef John Besh has allowed us a sneak peak of four of his recipes from his soon-to-be-released cookbook, My New Orleans: The Cookbook (publishing Oct. 6, 2009. Recipes reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing). To view his recipies for Peach Jam, Sport Pepper Sauce, Sugar Plums in Syrup, and Watermelon Pickles go to the Resource Page above or just HERE.