Many of my preserving favourites have evolved from sweet jams to savoury "ish" fruit preserves best used with meat, cheeses and crackers or as bastes.
David Lebowitz's recipe intrigued me. Think ripe strawberries, beautifully spiced and infused with vinegar. Beautiful and perfect for the cheese and/or meat board.
This recipes makes five 250ml jars.
1 lemon, preferably organic or unsprayed
1 tsp black peppercorns, plus additional for finishing the preserves
14 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
2 lbs strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or consider champagne vinegar)
A few drops balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon butter, salted or unsalted
Juice the lemon and pour the juice into a small nonreactive bowl. (Save the lemon halves.) Put the seeds in a piece of cheesecloth along with the peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves, and give it a few whacks with a hammer or rolling pin. Add the bag to the lemon juice.
Cut the strawberries into quarters, or if they are small, you can cut them in half. If you have a mix, cut them all so they are approximately the same size. You just don’t want them too small.
Toss the strawberries in a separate bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few hours (2-3), or overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.
Set a colander or large strainer over a wide, nonreactive cooking pot. Scrape the berries and their juices into the colander or strainer so the juices go into the cooking pot. Remove the colander with the macerated berries in it and set it aside.
Add the lemon juice, the spice bag, the reserved lemon halves, and the butter to the strawberry juices in the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the juices begin to thicken, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the strawberries and continue to cook, stirring gently every so often, until the berries are plump and softened, but not bursting apart. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the berries to remain in fairly distinct pieces.
Remove from heat, then discard the spice bag as well as the lemon rinds. Grind a bit more black pepper into the strawberries and ladle them into jars and cover.
Storage: The pickled strawberries can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If you wish to can them, check the guidelines and directions at the USDA website.