Cucumbers? Of course. Green beans? Absolutely. Beets, carrots, peppers, even okra. None shall escape the brine when pickling season is upon us. Pickling is not just a great way to extend the shelf life of your favorite produce. Pickles of all sorts are just plain delicious, and when you expand the menu to include the sweet as well as the savory, the brine less traveled makes all the difference.
Pickled grapes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when preserving the harvest, but once you try this recipe for refrigerated pickled grapes, it may find a permanent spot in your summer pickling lineup. Sweet and tart with just the right after bite, pickled grapes are great in salad or paired with sharp cheeses and charcuterie. They also add an unexpected tang to chicken salad and are very good eaten directly from the jar (often preceded by the phrase “OK, just one more.”)
Soaked in a brine of red wine vinegar and sugar and spiced with mustard seed, peppercorns and cinnamon, all that is bright and wonderful about seasonal grapes remains intact, yet becomes part of something more complex. They remain sweet, but with a sharp tang and savory undertone. It takes a moment to put it all together in the first bite and compels the palate to explore further.
The grapes are prepared for pickling by cutting the stem end from each grape. It’s worth the time it takes to allow the brine to fully soak into the soft flesh within. Once trimmed and packed into the brine, it takes only about 12 hours in the refrigerator before they’re ready to go. Refrigeration eliminates the need for water bath processing and leaves grapes firm, although the shelf life is limited to just a few weeks. This recipe yields one quart, but can be halved for the cautiously curious or doubled for those ready to share next time.
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cups grapes (seedless preferred)
Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed and peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and allow to cool as grapes are prepared.
Wash grapes and cut the stem end from each grape.
Pack grapes in a quart jar.
Pour cooled brine (warm is fine) over grapes to cover.
Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving.