I love this time of year! The produce is gorgeous, strawberries are perfectly delicious, peaches are back as are the rest of the stone fruit family. Now is the time to go to the farmers market and pick up some of these beauties. I recently got into pickling and I don’t know why it took me so long. I guess I thought that pickling had to be done in certain mason jars that had to be sealed by boiling them in big pots of water. It seemed so daunting and I didn’t want anything to do with that. Then I started working at Starlite, a kick ass restaurant in Bankers Hill, San Diego. Everything there is done fresh from scratch which includes all of the pickling. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make huge quantities of awesome dill pickles, giardiniera, and herby delicious pickled mushrooms. Now I do it at home, and it only takes a few hours to get the briny, crunchy goodness in my mouth.
While at a specialty grocery store I saw some local green strawberries. I remembered watching Chef’s Table or Mind of a Chef and saw one of the chefs using pickled green strawberries in one of his fabulous dishes and I thought to myself, pshhh, I can do that! So I picked up a pint, along with a ton of other beautifully colorful ingredients and rushed home to try it.
Pickling is as easy as this, equal parts vinegar and water with some sugar and salt. From there you can add whatever spices you’d like, some garlic, perhaps herbs. Go crazy! See what happens! So, I threw together a few things and got my pickle on.
Pickles can be eaten just by themselves but we all know how great they are with some cheese and meat. I love charcuterie boards! If I could start every dinner with one I would be a very happy lady. Most of my dinner parties start with a charcuterie board and I really enjoy putting them together. You really only need a few essential ingredients to make a good charcuterie board, obviously you need some cheese. Commonly you will have a few varieties ranging from a soft cheese like a brie, to a slightly harder cheese like gouda, and lastly a blue cheese. But you can go much further than that. Next, if you so desire, add some cured meat, I love prosciutto and any kind of salami. A spicy mustard like dijon is always nice on a cheese and meat board as are olives, cornichons, dried fruit, any kind of nut, cherries, apples…really anything goes.
I just made it easy on myself, this is a charcuterie for two so I kept it small. I had gorgonzola cheese, Iberico cheese (a spanish goats milk cheese similar to Manchego) capocolo salami, prosciutto, with olives, sliced black plum, walnuts, dijon mustard and of course, my pickled green strawberries. No board is complete with out a baguette or crackers but you can get away without them, I guess.
Just a few musings…make it look pretty. Add color and texture to your board. Adding height is always a good thing, I like to drape the prosciutto onto the board by pealing each slice and laying them in beautiful piles. Salami comes packaged in neat fanned out lines, you could leave it like that or fold each piece in quarters. It looks really pretty and it’s easier to grab. Also, pre slicing some of the cheese is more approachable for guests then digging into a perfect wedge. I could go on but you get the point. Now look at these pretty pictures!
Pickled Green Strawberries
Makes a pint of pickles.
Use a glass container because it is a non-reactive material
1 pint of green strawberries
1 1/2 cups of white vinegar (you could use apple cider as well)
1 1/2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of honey or sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2-3 bay leaves (I used fresh bay leaf)
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers (optional)
- Rinse the green strawberries and set aside.
- In a sauce pan combine vinegar, water, salt and honey or sugar on medium heat, stir until the salt and honey dissolve. Remove from heat and let it cool. Normally you would add the hot liquid to whatever you are pickling but to keep the texture of the strawberries intact we need to cool the liquid down first.
- Once the pickling liquid has cooled, place the strawberries, bay leaves, spices and chamomile flowers (if using) into a glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over. Give it a few shakes or stirs to disperse the spices and bay leaves then seal with a lid and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.
Makes 2-4 servings
2-3 slices of prosciutto
4-5 slices of salami (I had capocolo on hand)
2-3 ounces of Iberico or Manchengo (or whatever you want)
2-3 ounces of a blue cheese
1/4 cup of dijon mustard
1/4 cup of walnuts
1 plum or apple sliced thin
Pickled green strawberries
A baguette or crackers
- Place the ingredients artfully on a beautiful serving tray or cutting board and enjoy with a cocktail or wine.
Easy peasy! I hope you enjoy.