pickled spring strawberries + a refreshing gin cocktail

I am just emerging from an unintentional five-day-in-a-row staycation, and I can say I officially feel relaxed. Scratch that. I feel more invigorated. It was a slow week at work, so my current schedule reflected it {sadly, my next paycheck will reflect this quieter week, as well}. I find it challenging to stop and slow down and do nothing. These past few days, however, have been influential in getting me to do more of the “slowing down” stuff.

Slowing down and appreciating everything else that is happening, when I habitually bustle around, forget to breathe, and struggle with sleep. I feel like I successfully hit the “reset” button and am ready to get back to my schedule with a different and healthier perspective. On my first couple of days off, I found myself running into another room with an idea, getting distracted, forgetting why I came into the room in the first place, and looping back, only to greet the floor and sigh. Even cry. A lot. I felt like one of those wind-up dolls that smile and nod and circle and then collapse.

I am sitting here at my computer, listening to Foster the People’s latest album, sipping a glass of rosé {one that Steve wanted to save and declared as “hands-off” – oops!}, and trying to focus on the important things. What are those things to me? Taking the time to daily observe my garden’s progress, leaving my phone behind, refusing the urge to Instagram every moment, crafting a handwritten card instead of sending a choppy text, letting go of the should-haves and could-haves, and simply sitting still and noticing my thoughts and their patterns. I am really going to try and continue this intention, for the next few weeks are going to fly by, and I want to capture them and make them mine.

pickled strawberries with tarragonI just received the final confirmation for my trip to Burgundy, France, today, and I am beyond excited. I don’t even know what to expect. I will be leaving in less than two weeks and will be touring my absolute favorite wine region of France and visiting some of its most historic and heralded vineyard sites. I will miss Steve’s birthday, which is the 20th, but he is actually traveling to California for another wine-centric trip. I think I am excused from not being there for his celebration!

In the midst of all of my studying of Burgundy’s regions, making last-minute travel arrangements, poring over my lean bank statement, and fitting in my writing for the Kitchn, these past few days have been a blessing. I am actually happy that I took the time to do nothing, to stare up at the clouds, and to tinker around in my garden and kitchen, the places where I feel most at home.

freshly cut strawberries with tarragon, salt, pepperThe strawberries here have been spectacular; are you enjoying them, as well? I knew exactly what to do with the copious amounts of strawberries I picked up at the grocery the other day. I had been thumbing through Marisa McClellan‘s latest book, Preserving by the Pint, and noticed a recipe for pickled strawberries. I am always drawn to the weird and off-the-beaten-path type of recipes. Why didn’t I just make jam? Nope. I had to experiment with preserving strawberries in vinegar. And it worked out beautifully.

preserving by the pint, by marisa mcclellanI received this book from an inspirational friend in the food blogging community, Kristy Gardner, author of the site, She Eats. I had been eying Marisa’s book for quite a while, and I had even purchased a copy for a friend. I was elated, when I found out I had won Kristy’s giveaway on her blog. The book couldn’t arrive quickly enough! Once it hit my mailbox, I turned to page 47 and put my perfectly ripe strawberries to work.

strawberries, ready to slice


Quick Pickled Strawberries


This is Marisa’s recipe, here with her permission:

  • 1 dry quart strawberries {about 1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams}
  • 3/4 cup or 180 ml Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely milled sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs tarragon

After washing the strawberries, I removed the stems and leaves and cut the berries into halves. I quartered the larger berries. In a medium saucepan, I combined the vinegar, along with 1/3 cup of water, the sugar, salt, and cracked pepper. I set the saucepan over high heat and brought the mixture to a boil.

In a sterilized one-quart Mason jar, I added the tarragon sprigs. Fortunately, I could clip a couple of sprigs from the garden. I dropped in the sliced strawberries. Once the brine had boiled, I poured it into the jar and over the strawberries. Once the strawberry pickles had cooled, I placed a lid on the jar and stored it in the refrigerator, letting them rest and integrate overnight.

Marisa suggests incorporating the pickled strawberries into a salad or serving the berries in a glass of sparkling water. I will definitely make those options, but I was a little thirsty for something stronger that day, and gin was well within my reach.

sliced organic strawberries


Gin + Strawberry Shrub


  • 1 1/2 ounces St. George Terroir gin
  • 3/4 ounce mint simple syrup
  • 1 pickled strawberry {or 2, if you are daring!}
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • splash of soda water {optional}

In a shaker tin, muddle the strawberry. Add ice {about 4 or 5 cubes}, gin, mint simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake like crazy. Pour into a glass and garnish with a sprig of mint or strawberry slice. Finish with a little soda water, if you need a tamer and less vinegar-y cocktail. I prefer the refreshing punch of a vinegar cocktail, myself.

gin + pickled strawberries + mint simple syrup + freshly squeezed lime juice

mint in the garden

making mint simple syrupTo make the mint simple syrup, simply combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan {I usually make a batch of 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar}. Bring to a boil and let the sugar granules dissolve. Remove from heat and add about 4 mint sprigs. Steep until cool and strain, discarding the herbs. pickled strawberries and the finished gin cocktailI am definitely not alone on the vinegar-inspired cocktail kick. The Times published a great piece a couple of years ago on the rise in the use of vinegar in cocktails. In fact, I enjoyed my first vinegar drink, when I visited Portland last summer. I dined at the famed Pok Pok restaurant and enjoyed a tamarind drinking vinegar. It was simply pickled tamarind and soda – refreshing, vibrant, and different. I didn’t even miss the alcohol. I suggest tossing a pickled strawberry into a glass of soda water and adding the lime juice and mint simple syrup. Spring perfection!

Want to make your own drinking vinegar? Here is an excellent tutorial on making drinking vinegars or shrubs via the Kitchn, written by Emily Ho of Roots & Marvel.

Closing with some photos from the week. Have a great week ahead! I am adding a link at the bottom of this post, so that I can be included on Bloglovin’, making it even easier to follow my posts. And let me know if you are making any pickled or preserved garden goods {whoa, alliteration!}, yourselves!

Cheers,

Jayme

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Jayme Henderson

Occupationally speaking, I am a sommelier and mixologist at a busy, upscale Denver restaurant. I am lucky enough to spend most days tasting, pairing, and creating, alongside my cherished guests. I am also a contributor at the Kitchn, where I write about wine and gardening, tour cooks' kitchens, and interview innovative growers and makers. When I am not wearing those shoes, you can find me in my garden, preserving, painting, designing, and documenting my experiences along the way. I'm currently learning calligraphy and trying my best at home brewing. And I am seriously obsessed with my cats. And rosé.

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18 Comments

  1. Reply

    personal reflection

    May 7, 2014

    This is such a beautiful post. I love all the strawberry pictures; I will have to use some of your strawberry ideas. Thank you so much

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 11, 2014

      Thank you so much! Strawberries are so fun to capture, and they are super easy to pickle. It turned out surprisingly well! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Reply

    jeweledfrogcreations

    May 7, 2014

    Wow, inspiration!! I love it and you betcha I’m going to pickel a few delectable Tid bits. What I am extremely interested in is your upcoming trip to France!!!

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 11, 2014

      Thanks, Edie! Let me know what you pickle – want to see! I am into pickling the most outlandish and interesting things, so bring it! XO! I am FREAKED out about the France trip…a lot to focus on. In fact, I am up very late tonight thinking about it all…wow.

  3. Reply

    Jane's Adventures in Dinner

    May 8, 2014

    Gorgeousness! I dug-up a recipe of my Gran’s for pickled strawberries that I can’t wait to try in June.

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 11, 2014

      You will HAVE to post the recipe and let me know how it goes! This is the first time that I pickled strawberries, and I was very happy with the results. 🙂

  4. Reply

    spoonwithme

    May 9, 2014

    Mmmm, those look really good! My husband and I ate at Pok Pok last summer, and I think I had the rhubarb drinking vinegar. It was so good, and I love the idea of using the strawberries in the same way!

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 11, 2014

      I had the rhubarb and the tamarind drinking vinegar. Wasn’t that place amazing? The food and atmosphere were so memorable. I will have to go back again. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it, when you went! I was skeptical about “drinking vinegars,” but when I had the first sip, I was converted! The strawberries captured that same effect!

  5. Reply

    Erin (@bbburrow)

    May 10, 2014

    I would like to eat strawberry everything this time of year. 😉 Looking forward to seeing your pictures from France!

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 11, 2014

      Erin, I will post photos from France, for sure! I am not ready at all for the trip, but I am super excited. I hope your garden is doing well, and I hope you don’t have any snow headed your way. I am up late checking the weather and planning how to protect my seedlings and flowers. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Reply

    Julia Sforza

    May 16, 2014

    Love it, Jayme– I’m making this cocktail tonight! Have a safe and wonderful trip!

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      May 16, 2014

      Julia, let me know what you think! I love the pop of vinegary flavor, but the boyfriend finds it to be too much. I am in love with shrubs! Thanks for the well wishes on the trip. I am so behind with packing and preparations; all I want to do is crash. I guess I can do that on the plane, right?! 😉

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