Strawberry season is upon us! Strawberry jams, preserves, pies, muffins, shrubs, jellies, pickles!! Where are you on the “ways I preserve strawberries before the peak season ends (3 weeks)” list? So far this season I’ve scratched off a strawberry shrub, some strawberry ricotta muffins, and now pickled strawberries! Last year’s strawberry pantry was a bit more impressive as wild strawberries were a plenty around the Lil’ House. Anyways, after wading my way through the massive farmers’ market lines last weekend, people were ecstatic for clear skies, I managed to grab my share of locally grown strawberries harvested from Lyon Farms.
I realize that I feature Lyon Farms quite often probably because they happen to always have the latest super hot thing that I’m trying to put up, plus they’re my local PYO farm. Last summer I spent many of weekend day dawning a big straw hat while picking berries at their Falls Lake farm. Due to camping, Mother’s Day, and the required garden weekends, unfortunately this year I don’t think I’ll find the time for a farm visit. Alas, there’s always time for playing with a pickled strawberry recipe. As my entry for this months FIJ Mastery Challenge, thanks to my friend Johnathan, I decided to play with a menage of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and strawberries.
Happy spring y’all. Happy or not so happy crazy March weather. I’d be lying if I said I miss those surprise 1foot of snow blizzards of the North East United States. It’s been a pretty busy month on the home front. I’ve been traveling (hello Hawaii) for work, preparing food swaps, planning pickle contests, writing for the local Indy Week food column, and on top of it all gearing up for a move. Oh, and did I mention writing for (stay tuned… guest posts) and prepping shrubs for the Food in Jar’s Mastery Challenge?
Mojitos… what do mojitos make you think of? Summer, bathing suits, rum? For me, it’s a standard mojito that I once ordered at an overpriced Cuban’eqsue bar in Baltimore. A spot where I recall years back hanging with my good friend John sipping minting sugary drinks from a pitcher. Located in a more “bro-dude” part of town, I remember my tom-boy ways, always comparing myself to all the tanned, tiny, sorority type of girls adorned in pastel dresses and beige high heals. Running my fingers through my short pixie hair and looking down at my cutoffs and chucks, I say to John, “compared to all of these pretty girls, guys like “that” would never go for a girl like me.” “Erin (!!), you’d never go for guys like that.” Bam, I knew he was absolutely correct, but my self doubt and body consciousness was still at question. Things have changed, I now realize that I too am and always have been a “pretty” girl. I highlight this quick memory for Body Positivity Week. OK, onto this super sexy jelly…
I’m not exactly sure why, probably the strawberries…, but it seems only appropriate that I drink a glass of home-brew strawberry mango kombucha while I write this strawberry mustard blog post. Sensing a theme here? STRAWBERRIES!!! I am up to my ears in strawberries. A little over a week ago the wild strawberries on my property started to ripen. My initial thoughts were “this is amazing, I am going to have fresh strawberries everyday.” A week later… “god damnit, I have to get home so I can pick them before the nasty roly polys beat me to it!” Honestly, I feel like I’m at war with the little strawberry buggers. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m definitely not complaining, I’m having tons of fun with it. Everyday is like Easter for fruits: I get to hunt for the ripest, juiciest, reddest berries amongst the bugs and weeds. Oh man, now I can’t wait till cherry tomato season.
Thinking of ways to mix it up and get creative, I decided for this initial bloom (boom?) that I’d play with some savory ideas. Initially planning on doing a strawberry relish (not sure if that’ll actually work), I came up with this whole grain strawberry mustard instead. A super easy mustard recipe and depending on your desired taste you can modify by adding more or less strawberries. Enjoy this sweet and tangy mustard with cheese, crackers, and perhaps another savory jam or jelly. The strawberries featured in this recipe were picked locally at Lyon Farms.
I call this my “happy 4th of July jam”. I get that today isn’t the 4th of July, but I made this Jam on the 4th, so that counts for something, right? If you recall from last summer, I’m pretty pumped about pick your own (PYO). My experience thus far in picking my own fruits and veggies is limited to apples, blueberries, raspberries, kale, herbs, and cauliflower. Picking your own veggies is so much cheaper and so much more fun. With the narrow picking window for strawberries, I had to get on it, as I’ve never picked strawberries nor made a strawberry jam before. Also, blueberry picking season just started!!
So what is it about picking my own? For me, it has to do with many things: saving money, keeping it local, helping out the smaller farms, etc. The one thing that I love the most though is the meditative aspect of it. Bare feet and a short skort I was looking for only the best berries at Applecrest Farm Orchards last week. The greatest feeling ever… Too small, too tart, too yellow… not for my jam.
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