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Put Up What You Use Up

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We’ve seen historical references to the shrub as a mixer for alcohol, lemonade and water of the tonic-ed, carbonated, and still varieties.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

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Use Up What You Put Up: Tuna Salad with a Pickled Accent

Seattle chef Diane LaVonne incorporating pickles into her grilled tuna salad.

As part of Can-It-Forward Day, three Seattle chefs led how-to demos on incorporating preserved goodies into your everyday cooking. Diane LaVonne, owner of Diane’s Market Kitchen and a friend of CAA since the beginning, showed us  how you can zip up regular ole tuna salad with some home-brined cucumber pickles. She’s pictured, above, under the tent at Pike Place Market, with a beautiful piece of Pacific Albacore tuna, which is now in season. The crowd loved her pickle-y spin, and she’s dished up the details for this goodie, below.

Diane LaVonne’s Tuna Salad (with a canned pickle-y twist)

Servings: 10

You can also make tuna cakes by forming the mixture into small patties (this can be done a day in advance and kept chilled). Heat a pan on high heat and add olive oil. Lightly dust the patties with flour and brown on both sides in the pan. Remember, this is for a textural element, the tuna has already been cooked until it’s food safe. Serve warm with homemade tartar sauce.


1 pound tuna steak (Diane prefers Pacific Albacore, which is sustainably caught)

2 tablespoons red onion, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

1 tablespoon capers, drained, minced

3 tablespoons dill pickle, minced (preferably from pickles you’ve canned yourself!)

1 tablespoon kalamata olives, finely chopped

6 tablespoons mayonnaise (Diane is a fan of Kewpie, a Japanese brand)

fresh lemon juice to taste

salt and pepper to taste


Cut the tuna fillet into pieces about 1 inch thick. Heat a pan on the stove over high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Pan sear the tuna on one side. (With fresh albacore this takes about 1 minute) then flip the steaks, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook until medium. (with fresh albacore this takes about 2 minutes)Cool and flake, combine with other dry ingredients. Add enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture together. Taste, adjust flavor with lemon juice, salt, or pepper if needed.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 71 Calories; 3g Fat (34.9% calories from fat); 11g Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 86mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

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Cherries Three Ways

Thanks to our friends at the Washington State Fruit Commission, we’ve got cherries on the brain — and on the stove, and in jars.  For the second year in a row, we’ve been gifted with bing cherries like nobody’s business.  In celebration, we’ll be dishing up the myriad ways you can preserve cherries all week long.  Washington state is cherry country, and this year’s crop of Bings is bodacious, as CAA member Brook Hurst Stephens described them.  Our first cherry dispatch comes from CAA social media maven Shannon Kelly.

Past and present, I’ve got cherries on the brain, in the oven and on the stove.


From the cupboard

Last month, I found two half-pint wide mouth jars of preserved cherries dated July 2010 tucked away in the depths of my pantry and immediately thought of all of my Canvolutionary friends and our ever evolving mission to “use up what we put up”. For me, canned goodness is only as good as the moment you pop that top and dig into the delicious out-of-season pickle or preserve. It is a delightful precursor to summer in a rain-soaked spring.

Over the past 11 months, I had used my cherries packed in syrup for desserts and as a sauce over ice cream. It was time to do something different. The remaining two cans were transformed in less than an hour from sweet to savory.

Here’s how I did it: In a pot, combine two half-pint cans of cherries in sugar syrup with two garlic cloves (halved with the green part removed), one bay leaf, about a teaspoon of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Reduces slowly on extra low while stirring to avoid burning. Once the mixture is reduced by half, add up to ½ cup of chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock too).  Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Salt to taste.  Serve with your favorite grilled meat (we did chicken on the Green Egg).

From the farm

Just as I’d cleaned out my pantry, the Washington State Fruit Commission gifted Canning Across America with another round of cherries and I was back at the canning kettle. In honor of Cherry-palooza 2011, I transformed my three bags into Brandied Cherries while placing the remaining pound of the fruit in the oven on low heat (140 degrees for 3-4 hours or until dry).

I’ll use the dried cherries in salads or as an accompaniment on a cheese plate until I can’t resist the urge to dip back into my cupboard. That’s the problem with putting up canned foods —  it’s hard to wait to share the bounty (but so worth it to enjoy a taste of summer in February).

CAA Contributor Shannon Kelly is a trend illustrator, cultural anthropologist, brand strategist, gastronomic devotee and social media enthusiast. She founded In Your Head consultancy to transform her knowledge of marketing, innovation and merchandising into strategies for retail, food & lifestyle industries. Her love of pickling and new media has earned her the title of marketing/tech guru for Canning Across America. Shannon tweets about the intersection of food, fashion and culture @trendscaping and always cans wearing stylish shoes.

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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.


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