pickled blueberries

14 Aug

My mind is just beginning to think about blueberries. It’s that blueberry time of year again. Blueberry jam. Blueberry pancakes. Blueberries eaten by the handful.

For a small blueberry farm in Rockport, Maine, however, the season has just ended.

Beech Hill Preserve is an organic wild blueberry farm managed by the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Although it is situated on a hill, with reputedly lovely views of the coastline, the fields were heavily enshrouded in mist and rain on the day that I visited, and nary a lighthouse nor a seagull were seen.

I made the trek to Rockport at the invitation of Brianne, who has been spending her summer as an intern with the land trust.

She took me through all of the steps involved in blueberry harvesting, from picking berries in the field with a ‘rake,’ to winnowing and packaging the berries into quart- and ten pound-sized containers. It’s a fascinating process (with a $10k piece of equipment!) that illustrates how foraging can easily be ramped up to a commercial production level.

With the commercial season coming to a close, I returned home with a box of too-small-to-market berries (shown above top left), as well as a box of plumper fruit, some of which I raked myself. Now, I’m in the midst of freezing cookie sheet after cookie sheet of berries, and I’ve been dreaming up all of the ways I’ll enjoy this fruit in the months to come.

On Sunday, in between reading a tragically-long novel, I made Blueberry Mallow Doodles, which have been a huge hit. And today, I have an easy recipe for something that recently caught my eye (thanks Jenna!). I have been so excited to try making this. Are you ready?

Pickled Blueberries! Oh. You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

This recipe, published on Saveur last year, is credited to Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7 Sub in New York City. Like any quick pickling recipe, it’s just a base of vinegar, salt, and sugar. Add blueberries and some red onion, and you have a colorful hors d’oeuvre that could be served on a sandwich, or with crackers and cheese. I’m willing to bet it would also go very well with pickled herring.

I’ve played with the recipe a bit. I’ve altered it to fill a quart jar, used half white vinegar and half apple cider vinegar, and changed the ratios to use less onion and less sugar than were originally called for.

And I’m impressed. Chances are, if you knock on my door anytime in the coming week, you might catch me sneaking a spoonful of this stuff straight from the fridge. “It’s just so…. pretty!” I will explain to you in a red-cheeked, conciliatory manner.

Pickled Blueberries {adapted from Tyler Kord’s recipe published on Saveur}

Makes 1 quart


1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar (+1 tbsp if using wild/less sweet blueberries)
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 lb blueberries
1/4 to 1/2 large red onion, sliced thin


In a medium bowl, whisk sugar and salt with vinegars until dissolved. In a quart glass jar, add blueberries and red onion slices (use closer to 1/2 of an onion if you are looking for a more onion-y end product). Top with pickling mixture. Cap the jar, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one day.

Serve with crackers and cheese, or pickled herring, or on a sandwich (Chef Kord uses these blueberries on a sandwich of brie, pistachios, and chervil).

Visiting Beech Hill Preserve:

Located approximately 1.5 miles from the village of Rockport, between Routes 1, 17 and 90
Rockport, Maine

More information on their blueberries

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50 Responses to “pickled blueberries”

  1. Jenna 2012/08/14 at 09:12 #

    Thanks for adjusting the recipe! I’m actually more interested in your adaptation than Saveur’s version. (Sshhh… don’t tell.) “Less onion” is always good for me, since I’m only now allowing little bits of it into my diet. I grew up as a die-hard onion-hater.

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 06:58 #

      Yeah, I used nearly 1/2 an onion and it was quite oniony. I’m a fan, plus I like the color it gives the brine, but I know it’s not for everyone.

      I always try to incorporate some apple cider vinegar when I can – I like the flavor better than distilled white.

  2. leaf (the indolent cook) 2012/08/14 at 09:55 #

    Pickled blueberries, now that’s a thought! And wow, don’t they just look absolutely gorgeous in the jar?

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 06:59 #

      Aren’t they pretty? Looking at them brings a smile to my face!

  3. mylifeisthebestlife 2012/08/14 at 10:19 #

    AMAZING! I’m sharing this with a co-worker in the hopes that she’ll make some and bring them to work.

    CZ – if you can see this, YOU’RE WELCOME!

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:00 #

      Aww, thanks for sharing! I hope some of these find their way to you… and soon!

  4. popthebubbly1 2012/08/14 at 10:22 #

    posted a lil’ blog lovin’ for ya! xxo

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:01 #

      Loves it! Thank you:)

  5. sarah 2012/08/14 at 10:30 #

    That’s the prettiest jar of pickled anything I’ve ever seen! Brie, pistachios, and chervil sounds just about perfect too.
    This is too interesting to pass up.

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:02 #

      I agree, that sandwich idea sounds really phenomenal. It’s not everyday that brie graces me with its presence… the same goes for pistachios and chervil… but if the stars one day align, I bet I will have at least five minutes of delicious sandwich time!

  6. Alayna @ Thyme Bombe 2012/08/14 at 10:57 #

    YUM! I think a spoonful of pickled blueberries over a thick slice of bleu cheese sounds like a perfect snack.

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:03 #

      Oooh, good idea! I bet Roquefort would go most excellent with these blueberries!

  7. healthygirlandthecity 2012/08/14 at 13:20 #

    i’m intrigued! thanks for the idea – i would’ve never thought to pickle blueberries…so pretty too!

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:04 #

      I’m glad I saw a link to the original recipe, or I wouldn’t have thought of it either! It’s definitely intriguing:)

  8. Silvia 2012/08/14 at 13:37 #

    Hmmm, it is so pretty!
    We’ll eat our way through the box of bilberries this evening for dessert…. :)

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:05 #

      Yes! Yummmmmm – do you eat them plain, or with additions? I would probably pop them into my mouth too quickly to concoct anything to go with them!

  9. Hannah 2012/08/14 at 13:51 #

    Pickled blueberries is something I would never, ever have thought of in a million years. Consequently, I am crediting you entirely with imagining-up this creation, and I applaud you for what I am sure is deliciousness-indeed, as well as the mystical aura of your blue-tinted photos.

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:07 #

      That’s right, yeah! Even though I credited the genius author of this recipe, I adapted it…. So it’s basically like I deserve all the credit, right? Cool.

      I hope the photos aren’t too blue-tinted… perhaps just blue-heavy?

      You know what has a mystical aura? Utah.

      • Hannah 2012/08/24 at 16:18 #

        Pickled Utah…

        • emma 2012/08/24 at 16:26 #

          Look at you, leaving a million comments in a row (aka 4). I want to Pickle You!

          Not really though, cause that would be mean and acidic :P

  10. El 2012/08/14 at 23:40 #

    What a wonderful farm experience. I love the photos. The bliueberris look great too. Hope your summer is going well.

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:09 #

      El, it was fantastic. I always enjoy watching other people visit farms, and seeing their happy expressions, smiles, and jokes amongst each other. There’s nothing quite like a happy family on vacation.

      My summer is wonderful! I hope yours is going great as well. xo

  11. I-Hua Lim (@msihua) 2012/08/15 at 04:53 #

    So lovely! I wish it was blueberry season here!!

    • emma 2012/08/15 at 07:09 #

      Oooh yeah, I wish it was always blueberry season here!

  12. Adrian Briones (@food_rehab) 2012/08/15 at 07:58 #

    This is just the bomb! Blueberries would have to be one of my all time fav fruits. Who knew you could pickle them! I once ate a few punnets and embarrassingly..well….ok…I’ll just stop right there to keep this ‘PG’ LOL

    I louuurve the pics by the way.

    • emma 2012/08/16 at 07:14 #

      Oh, Adrian! Haha:) Thank you so much for keeping it PG. Although given that I have 16 pounds of blueberries to get through, I suppppppppppppppossssssssse I understand;)

  13. movita beaucoup 2012/08/15 at 19:25 #

    Okay this whole post is EXQUISITE. EXQUISITE, I say! It’s only 8:25 pm here, and we’re so tuckered out that we are going to bed. AT 8:30 pm. Sad. But, I’ll be dreaming of those pickled blueberries and the magical colour of it all…

    • emma 2012/08/16 at 07:15 #

      Thank you movita dear:) I went to bed by 8:30 the other night, and was ready to do the same last night. I managed to stay awake a while longer to have my ass kicked in cribbage. Just a regular ass-kicked night for me.

  14. hungryandfrozen 2012/08/16 at 06:17 #

    Ohhh, just look at those beautiful blueberries. Can’t even fathom that many. LOVE the sound of this pickle (and the look of course). And the blueberry farm seems like a seriously cool place to hang out.

    • emma 2012/08/16 at 07:17 #

      I know, Laura, I was in shock for at least an hour after scurrying away from the blueberry farm with my delectable bounty!

      It was a lovely place to hang out indeed – – I only wish I could have seen the ocean:)

  15. Mary at n00bcakes 2012/08/16 at 08:51 #

    Simply beautiful misty picture of the Beech Hill Preserve!
    And what an odd flavor combination. Pickled blueberries? With red onion? Off the cuff it makes my nose wrinkle, but when I think about it…the tart/sweet flavor might actually not be that bad! How intriguing…

    • emma 2012/08/16 at 09:14 #

      I know… it might seem like a pretty weird flavor combination.

      You just need to set aside your preconceived notion of blueberries as desserty sweet, and imagine them as something pickley savory that happens to be pretty as well. I mean, you don’t need to do this. But you can if you want:)

  16. thyme (Sarah) 2012/08/17 at 07:58 #

    I love seeing these photos of the blueberry farm in Maine. I also LOVE misty shots of woods and tiny little dirt roads. Pickled fruit has certainly been sweeping the web. I wish I could get my hands on some and try it out on a sandwich so I can see what this goodness is all about. I have such fond memories of blueberry picking in New York when we lived there. Sheesh, we had a blueberry farm a mile down the road from us and we were there once a week. I’m thinking they cooler climes because I haven’t seen any farms down here…

    • emma 2012/08/18 at 08:37 #

      I love misty shots, too. I would have stayed out longer, but with all the drizzle, it became difficult to keep my glasses clean and see what I was photographing!

      I’d never gotten blueberries from a commercial farm before – I’ve always picked them in the wild. This was more fun… and muuuuuuuch quicker!

      I should pay more attention – I didn’t realize pickled fruit was a trend. There must be loads more delicious recipes out there!

  17. Sophia 2012/08/17 at 14:22 #

    GAH!! So beautiful, those pickled blueberries! I’d love to visit Maine during blueberry season. Strawberry season here has just ended and I’m very sad. :(

    • emma 2012/08/18 at 08:40 #

      Strawberry season! Mmm. I feel like strawberry season here was way too brief this year. I ate a couple that I foraged, but then mere days later, they were done. Oh well, now I’ve overloaded with blueberries:)

  18. Amy (Savory Moments) 2012/08/18 at 07:58 #

    These look awesome – I bet they’d be delicious on a salad or with a cheese plate. I made spiced pickled grapes a couple years ago and everyone ended up loving them (although we were all suspicious at first!).

    • emma 2012/08/18 at 08:43 #

      I’ll definitely be putting these on salads!

      Oooooooh. Spiced pickled grapes!! Whoa. Must make.

  19. Shelley Burbank 2012/08/20 at 19:43 #

    Just went blueberry picking today, and I love pickling. This is one recipe I will definitely try. –Shelley
    ps: GREAT photos!

    • emma 2012/08/24 at 06:58 #

      Thank you:) Let me know how you like the recipe, if you try it!

  20. shannon 2012/08/21 at 18:06 #

    your photos in the post make me super, super happy. i envy your trip to see brianne and those tiny little blueberries.
    i love it when i see a recipe i know i’d love, but i can’t conjure up the taste of it in my mind. blueberry muffins? easy. pickled blueberries? i have NO frame of reference. i have pickled things, but nothing fruity. i am interested. i will do this someday. andrew carmellini has a recipe for pickled cherries i want to try also, so there will, at some point, be a Pickled Fruit Fest around here. yay!

    • emma 2012/08/24 at 07:00 #

      Many of these wee blueberries were actually quite sizable, I was surprised. In a wonderful way.

      Let’s see, frame of reference… they’re like anything else that is pickled, so salty and sweet. And due to the onions they are oniony. But when you bite them they issue forth some juicy deliciousness that mediates the overall pickley nature. It’s yummy!

      I’d love to make pickled cherries… ooh, yeah!

  21. erin @ yummy supper 2012/08/22 at 13:43 #

    Emma, of course you have a blueberry recipe for us! I keep having images of you from the Blueberries For Sal book. I know we Californians have our funny stereotypes of your New Englanders;)
    So pretty is right, love your jar shot.

    • emma 2012/08/24 at 07:02 #

      Aww, Blueberries For Sal, one of my favorites when I was little:) I never realized until I moved out here that it was supposed to be representative of New England, silly me.

      Of course I have a blueberry recipe for you! Hah;) xoxo

  22. christie 2012/08/29 at 15:48 #

    I just made a batch of these last night. Defintiely my new favorite way to eat blueberries- thank you for this recipe!

    • emma 2012/08/29 at 15:51 #

      Very cool! I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Christie! Aren’t they pretty to look at in your fridge, too? :)


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