Since sharing with you some stupid things I do in the kitchen, I’m finding myself in a rather tell-all mode. Don’t worry, I’m not going all truth & dare on you, but I do want to confess my undying affection for all things pickled. Since I was a little girl, kindergarten-age or so, one of my favorite snacks was kosher dill pickles. My brother and I were so into them that my mother had to keep gallon-size containers in the fridge just to support our habit. Strange, I know, but also typical of my and my brother’s weirdness as kids. (I.e., we were known in our teenage years to engage in screaming fights over whether the U.S. constitution should be interpreted according to the founders’ original intention (him), or whether it was a “living document” whose meaning would change over time (me). But I digress.)
We didn’t make our own pickles at home. That practice didn’t start for me until, after a visit to Seattle’s Boat Street Cafe and savoring a plate of assorted pickles that is a specialty of this Provencal-inspired restaurant. Each vegetable and fruit was pickled in a different brine, and I was blown away by the strong yet subtle and nuanced flavors in each. They were beautiful to boot.
I recently discovered that Boat Street is now selling their pickles to the world, not just to those lucky Seattleites, which is super exciting to me. Check it out: pickled figs, raisins, red onions, and prunes. I hope Zingerman’s is reading this.
So until I place my order, or until my local gourmet food emporium starts carrying them, I’ll continue making refrigerator pickles chez moi. Until the other day, I had only made quick vegetable pickles. I was a little skeptical of giving the pickle treatment to fruit–in this case grapes–but I needn’t have been. Making pickles out of fresh or dried fruits makes you feel like you’re tasting that fruit for the first time. It tempers and heightens the sweetness of the fruit, confusing your tastebuds a little bit but only in exciting, tangy ways. I’ve been eating these pickles with pork and duck, and I have a mind to serve them as a bold alternative to the canonical Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Renegade pickle-lover that I am.
Makes about 3 cups
1 pound seedless grapes (I used a combination of red and green)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Rinse and dry the grapes, and pull them carefully from their stems. Put the grapes into a medium bowl, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then pour the mixture immediately over the grapes.
Stir to combine. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
Pour the grapes and brine into jars with tight-fitting lids (or cover the bowl with plastic wrap), and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold. Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, if you can leave them alone for that long.