My first try at pickled grapes was a few years ago– I’d come across a recipe from (you guessed it) Deb at Smitten Kitchen and was determined to give it a shot. I’d never tried pickling anything before, so it seemed like as good a reason as any to start! They turned out to be absolutely amazing– sweet, tangy, and refreshing, with a hint of spice to tweak the palate from being dessert-ish to savory cheese plate-ish. I vowed to make them again at some point… and promptly forgot about them.
Still, some vestige of memory must have remained, because when I volunteered to bring a cheese plate to a gathering of my best foodie friends, a little bell in my head went “ding!” and I knew I’d have to try making these again.
This time, more out of necessity than out of any real desire to change the recipe, I had to make a few substitutions to the original ingredient list to use what I had in the pantry. No cinnamon sticks, so I used ground cinnamon, and I was out of white wine vinegar so I used a combination of red wine vinegar and rice vinegar. However, the grapes still turned out fantastically, and they are going to earn a permanent spot in my “what to make when I need to show off” rotation!
Sweet and Spicy Pickled Grapes (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 lb. seedless red grapes
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Combine all ingredients except grapes in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Let liquid cool to room temperature.
2. In the meantime, rinse grapes and slice small bits off the stem ends. Deb calls them “belly buttons,” and it’s an apt descriptor. Feel free to eat those– you’re just making a larger opening for the brine to soak in. Divide grapes between two pint-sized jars (I used empty Talenti gelato jars and they were perfect, but mason jars would work as well).
3. When brine is cool, pour over grapes (including all the seeds and spices), dividing evenly between jars. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours before serving.
Note: In my opinion, these are best within a few days of making them. After the first few days the grapes start getting a little soggy and don’t have the nice, fresh crispness that they started off with anymore. They still taste fine, but I prefer the firmer version.