We’ve all done it: bought a bunch of berries with good intentions and gone back to them only to realize they’ve turned the corner from perfectly ripe to sad mush. They’re not quite as appetizing to snack on or pop in some yogurt, so maybe you’d blend them into a smoothie or turn them into compote—anything other than wasting them.
But there’s another fresh thing you can do, one that we’ve certainly never thought about: Pickle them! During a recent virtual event with Thrive Market, chef and well-being advocate Sophia Roe shared this clever trick for making your overripe berries sing again. “‘Anything you can eat, anything at all, you can pickle it,” she said. While pickling is usually reserved for vegetables like cucumbers and onions, there’s actually a wide range of vegetables and fruits that taste great pickled—berries included.
During the event, Roe demonstrated a way to make a simple quick pickle brine. While during the demo she used veggies, the same basic mix will work for fruits, too. All you really need to make a pickling liquid is vinegar and some aromatics. “Pickling always has an acid or a vinegar involved,” she says. She was careful to point out that while in some cases you do use a lot of salt in a pickle, there is a difference between preserving (which relies heavily on salt to literally preserve the food) and doing a quick pickle (which you store in the fridge to preserve). As for aromatics, she’s talking about herbs, citrus, and spices. That includes things like garlic and ginger—and, personally, we think berries pickled with ginger sounds pretty great.
Simply heat the vinegar slowly (and not to a super-high heat) with aromatics in a nonreactive pan. This last bit is important: If you use a reactive (or copper) pan, your fruit might turn funky colors—though they’re still good to eat. Once the brine is warm and infused with all the good flavors you’ve added, pour some into a sanitized jar and fill it up with the berries. “They gotta be submerged,” Roe emphasized. Leave the jar to cool down for a bit, then stick it in the fridge. From there, it’s just a waiting game: “Things are pickled after six hours; personally, they’re my favorite after two days,” she says.
What you can do with pickled berries.
Granted, making the pickled berries is pretty easy—but what do you do with them after? It’s not necessarily a flavor you’re likely to be super familiar with, but luckily Roe had some tips for that, too. She says they’re “incredible for ice cream or coconut yogurt” or that “you can blend them up, and then you have an interesting compote for cocktails or spritz.” Essentially, you can use them as normal berries—just ones with an extra-special punch.
And the best way to know what to do with them is simple: Taste them! Get to know the flavor, and then go from there because you’re sure to come up with other fun ideas. Want to get even more into pickling? It’s actually not as complicated as you might think, and you can check out our guide here.