pickled grapes three ways

posted in: cooking, preserving, recipes | 7

Most people that know me or eat with me know that I’m fairly willing to try anything. And that includes fruit. I’ve tried and am trying just about any piece of produce that catches my eye. But grapes? Grapes easily fall into the all-time favorites list. When I was younger, it was all about green grapes. I was accustomed to soft red grapes, overripe and neglected in the Harris Teeter aisles. Discovering that red grapes could be firm, sweet things it was an epiphany.

And the latest epiphany? A grape that is actually from a local farm. It’s a fleeting, dangerous season here, when Concords and Niagras show up. $4 for a pint? No problem, might as well buy three. One will get nibbled on during the trip home, the second might turn into a jam or pie. And the third? Oh, it’s eaten while making said item. Yes, grapes are an expensive habit.

During my trip to San Francisco over Labor Day, the sheer amount of grapes sold in the markets were amazing. Varieties! In bulk! Tiny Champagnes, Concords that looked like they had gorged themselves on sunlight and rain, sweet and gorgeous Red Flames. While my body thanks me for living in New York (grape belly anyone?), my mind is envious of the West Coast.

I use the envy as inspiration, and decided it was time to do something more with grapes besides eat them with abandon. Unfortunately, these aren’t local grapes, but they serve their purpose quite well. And that purpose is pickling. A quick refrigerator pickle done three ways, these grapes run the gamut of flavors. Sweet and lush, tart and acidic, spicy, with a bite. Each variety is divine, but if you’re wary of a fruit pickle (and really, you shouldn’t be), I recommend picking the one whose flavors mesh the best with your favorite flavors. And, please, if you have farm fresh grapes at your reach, do try pickling them!

The three recipes were inspired by a few great sources:

Smitten Kitchen was the first pickled grape my eyes ever laid upon, and it it a delightful introduction. Ginger is one of my favorite ingredients in both my sweet and savory repetoir. And the combination of spices in the noir jam is far too dark, mysterious and a bit sensuous to resist. I have made the Smitten recipe before, along with the Tigress jam, and I trust Put Em Up dearly, so these three choices just make sense to me. These recipes below make two pints, but I made a miniscule batch of each in the spirit of adventure.  If you’d like advice on shrinking the recipes, definitely leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

And how to use up your bounty of pickled delights? Well of course, here are three ideas for you:

  • Spread goat cheese on a crostini or cracker and top with half a grape.
  • Throw a few rough chopped grapes on top of your favorite chicken salad [recipe] for a one-two punch of sugar and acid.
  • Or my favorite idea, a substitute for an olive in an adult beverage of your choice.
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    Cinnamon & Black Pepper Pickled Grapes
    1 lb seedless red grapes
    1 cup vinegar*
    1 cup sugar
    1 ½ teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1 cinnamon stick, cut in half (if using two jars, otherwise leave whole)
    ¼ teaspoon salt

    Pickled Grapes Noir
    1 lb seedless red grapes
    1 cup vinegar*
    1 cup sugar
    ¼-½” knob ginger, sliced into coins
    1 cinnamon stick, cut in half (if using two jars, otherwise leave whole)
    ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
    ¼ teaspoon whole cloves

    Ginger Pickled Grapes
    1 lb seedless red grapes
    1 cup vinegar*
    1 cup sugar
    3 bay leaves
    15 black peppercorns
    6 green cardamom pods
    ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
    ¼ tsp salt

    Directions [same for each variety]
    *Regarding vinegar: My batch of grapes were made with equal portions cider and white vinegar. I find cider vinegar to have an overpowering flavor alone. But the white vinegar comes across a bit harsh for grapes once sitting longer than 12 hrs. For this recipe, I recommend using a white WINE vinegar or cider vinegar, or a combination of the two.

    In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar(s), sugar and all herbs and spices.  Bring to a boil over medium heat. While this is happening, rinse and pluck the grapes from their stems and divide into two pint jars. Once the vinegar, sugar and spice mixture has boiled, you have two options. You can pour the hot mixture directly over the grapes or cool the mixture and then pour. Personally, I prefer the cold-poured pickle, they stay crisper while the warm poured pickle will be more tender.

    Once combined, place jars in the refrigerator to combine for at least 8 hours. These will last in the fridge at least one month, if not longer. Degree of pickle will increase as time in refrigerator increases.

    7 Responses

    1. Nice work! Love the pickled grapes!

    2. Thanks, Julia. They’re such a fast pickle, picking up the flavors nicely. I’m excited to play with other flavor combos and uses.

    3. Would have never thought about something like this. I must try it. I wonder if you could transfer a pickled grape to infuse a vodka?

    4. Inspiring! I am headed out to the fields tomorrow to see if I can glean some second harvest grapes for this. Yum.

    5. [...] Pickled Grapes Three Ways :: Nomnivourous [...]

    6. Heather

      Shouldn’t there be ginger in the Ginger Pickled Grapes?

    7. This may be too late to post, but I think you have the two bottom recipe titles mixed up. Can’t wait to try them.

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