In the long list of different ways to make shrub infusions, pickling fruit is at the top of it since the sweet infused brine then becomes an easy shrub syrup and the pickled fruit makes a fab garnish in the shrub cocktails you create. It’s a two-for-one deal at its very best!
I pickled strawberries a month prior to my book party at BookPeople in Austin in May. Guests sipped Tito’s Vodka spiked shrub cocktails garnished with pickled strawberries. You can double the volume of brine below if you envision hosting a night of libations beyond what’s available by stealing from the brine surrounding the strawberries in your jars.
yields 3 half pint jars
1. Halve and core 3 pints of strawberries. The smaller you cut them the less shape they will retain once pickled. Strawberries are tender to begin with, so keeping them halved will be your best bet for the firmest end product.
In a medium saucepan combine 2-1/2 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cups sugar and place over low heat to dissolve sugar granules.
2. Make your brine flavor combo and tie it up in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin tea bag:
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
1/2 Tbs black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick, broken
Drop flavor bag into brine pot.
3. Bring brine to a simmer and cook with the flavor bag for 5 minutes. Add prepared strawberries and remove pot from heat. Pour mixture into a glass bowl and allow it to cool on the countertop until the bowl is no longer hot to the touch. Cover and refrigerate overnight to infuse the strawberries.
4. At this point I suggest not canning this small batch for texture purposes, but rather just removing the flavor bag, ladling the overnight-infused strawberries into 3 half pints (or into 1 quart jar) and pouring the brine over the jar(s) to cover the strawberries. Place jar(s) in the refrigerator where they will keep for 6 months.
Strawberries are so tender, especially when ripe, but if canning is desired, then spread spices evenly amongst and directly in the jars and raw pack the strawberries into your jars, like you would with these vinegar fridge pickles and pour the boiled brine over the berries. Bubble and ensure 1/2-inch headspace and process half pints for 10 minutes in a waterbath.