Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pickled Grapes!

Hello there! I know it's been a while - like "one year" a while - and even before I disappeared I had trouble keeping up with regular posts. What can I say? Adjusting to life back in the States was difficult, especially the whole "working and writing a cooking blog" part. And some other parts, too, but that is for another post on another day. Today, though, is about pickles, sweet, delicious pickles.

I first noticed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen while living in Kuwait, where fresh grapes were either unavailable or expensive enough to keep thoughts of recipe experimentation far from my mind. These days in Texas, however, grapes of all varieties are dripping over produce displays and I thought to myself, "Yes."

And when I put that first pickled globe into my mouth, I exclaimed out loud, "YES!" In all sincerity, these little things are surprisingly delicious. Sure, I closed my eyes when I tasted the first one, not fully trusting the positive testimony from Deb at SK and Molly at Orangette, imagining only how horribly wrong punchy vinegar grapes could be. Wrong. The white wine vinegar is subtle and the grapes are sweet and, oh my, I couldn't stop popping them in my mouth. Also awesome? Pairing these with some blue cheese on top of a cracker. Go ahead, put it in your mouth. And then try to make out with someone. You could be surprised!

The original recipe calls for brown mustard seeds, though SK used yellow. Personally, I hate brown mustard, so much so that I leave them out of most Indian dishes I cook, so yellow seeds seemed all right to me. I considered making two batches in order to compare the flavors but, damn, did I mention I hate brown mustard seeds? Be sure to allow the pickling syrup to cool before pouring it over the grapes, otherwise the grapes will become overly soft as they souse.

Pickled Grapes
from Smitten Kitchen
1 pound red or black grapes, preferably seedless
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds (hm, mine might have been yellow? I was unconcerned.)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick, cut in half (if using two jars, otherwise leave whole)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse and dry the grapes, and pull them carefully from their stems. Using a small sharp knife, trim away the “belly button” at the stem end of the grape, exposing a bit of the flesh inside. Divide the grapes among 2 pint-sized clean, dry canning jars.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then cool before pouring over grapes.
Chill the grape and brine mixture in their jars in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.
Make these, serve cold, and rejoice in the glory of pickles.

In other news, I recently visited Gourdough's trailer in south Austin. Yes, that's bacon on top of a freshly made doughnut with a healthy slather of maple frosting. Makes you want to hop on a plane to the Lone Star State, doesn't it?

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