At the risk of sounding like a Portlandia sketch, I am a little obsessed with pickling. You take something yummy, plop it in some vinegar, sugar and spices and it tastes even better. And lasts longer! Win-win, right?
When Matt and I lived in Brooklyn, we used to go to this great place called Buttermilk Channel (I say that like we could just waltz right in, la di da, but there was almost always a line down the block. Damn you, Brooklyn!). Anyway, they have a chicken liver mousse that they top with two perfectly sweet/tart pickled grapes. Divine. Since we don’t live stumbling distance from them anymore, I decided to try to make it myself. I know it sounds weird but pickled grapes are really good.
If you swing that way, do yourself a solid and make this easy and delicious Chicken Liver Pâté with Thyme and Brandy and put a couple of these bad boys on top. You can thank me later (or invite me over and we can giggle maniacally about how good this combo is). You could also just put out a bowl of them and eat them by the handful. They would be great alongside a sharp cheese or even in a cocktail.
- 1½ pounds seedless red grapes, washed
- 2½ cups red wine vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 15 whole cloves
- 6 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 grapes into two clean jars (leave a little room for the brine).
- 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 spices, into the grape-filled jars (I used a funnel but you could also pour the liquid into a spouted measuring jug first, then fill the jars). When the liquid has cooled a bit, use your fingers to push the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves down into the jar with the grapes.
- Set aside, uncovered, while the pickling liquid cools to room temperature (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 found 2 days was perfect but it’s really a matter of preference.