Christmas calls to mind lots of food–gingerbread and peppermint, roast goose and baked ham, but most people probably don’t have visions of pickles dancing through their heads on Christmas Eve. Except in our house. I’m not sure how or why pickles and the holidays go together here, but they do. I’ve been thinking about our holiday traditions for an upcoming project and noticed a serious trend–quick pickles. I seem to bust these out any time more than four people gather in my kitchen (for examples, see here, here, here, and here–see what I mean?), and thought it was about time to share one of my favorite quick pickle recipes with you.
Quick-pickled grapes are sweet, and spicy, and just really good. Their flavor is intensely surprising, something you can’t quite put your finger on. So you have another, and another, and then, they’ve all disappeared. I first discovered quick-pickled grapes through Orangette, and have been eating them by the handful ever since.
Pickled Grapes (adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe here)
makes 2 quarts
2 pounds seedless red grapes, washed
3 cups red wine vinegar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seed
15 whole cloves
8 bay leaves
4 sticks cinnamon
Wash and stem the grapes. Using a sharp knife, cut off the very tip of the grape, right where the stem meets it.
Place prepared grapes into two clean quart jars.
Meanwhile, heat the vinegar and all the remaining ingredients over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar has fully dissolved.
Pour the hot liquid, and all of the whole spices, into the grape-filled jars. Use your fingers to shove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves down into the jar. Set aside, uncovered, while the pickling liquid cools, for about an hour. Screw on lids, turn jars upside-down a few times to distribute the spices, and place in the fridge overnight to cure.
The grapes will take on more and more flavor as they continue to steep. I like them best 24 hours later when the flavor to firmness ratio is just about perfect, though they should keep well for 4 or 5 days.