Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A little pickling factory.

This weekend Sam and I became a little pickling factory. We pickled peppers. We pickled onions. And we pickled grapes. Yes, grapes. And they are good.

I have wanted to pickle for a long time. And Sam loves pickles. He actually loves them so much that Sunday, as we were cleaning up and jarring our pickles, he decided to drink some of the leftover brining liquid. It was a mistake which he promptly followed with several Tums and a Zantac. It turns out pickles are not the best food for a guy with stomach acid issues. However they are delicious, and therefore worth a bit of heartburn.

My kick into pickling action came last week at the bi-monthly dinner club. John and Lauren made the most delicious Potted Chicke Rillettes recipe that included no less than four sticks of butter. They served the dish with an assortment of pickles, including homemade pickled peppers. The peppers were delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to the rich chicken dish. Since Sam and I have about 4 lbs of peppers in our fridge courtesy of the summer CSA, the pickling commenced. I like to go all out when I try something, and I have been storing a few pickling recipes since last summer, so in addition to the peppers we also pickled red onions and grapes.

I found the pickled grape recipe courtesy of my favorite food bloggist, Bon Appetite columnist, and book author Molly Wizenburg (aka Orangette). Only this time the recipe was on NPR (is there any cool place that this girl isn't publishing?). It was in the archives back from 2007, and it is an editorial on pickles. Only not your normal pickles, exciting pickles like onions, prunes, and grapes.

I was further motivated, because I have actually had one, single, delicious pickled grape in my life. My sister Anne made Orangette's recipe this summer, and she fed me one succulent grape over my fourth of July trip. I was hooked. They taste like a slightly tart cinnamon treat. They are crisp, bright, and completely unique. Now Sam and I have three little jars of pickled grapes in our frige, on a shelf full of pickled produce. It is wonderful.

We have a lot of pickled produce to eat in the next few weeks, but already I am planning my next foray into pickling. Next up, pickling carrots. And Maybe okra. I have a lot of summer CSA okra in my fridge. Oh yes, and prunes. Is there anything that can't be made more delicious through pickling? Pucker up, its about to get real tangy around here.

Pickled Grapes
from Molly Wizenberg (aka Orangette) via NPR

According to Molly, "These may sound curious, but they're a real crowd-pleaser: crunchy, sweet and warmly spiced. The recipe is adapted from Susan Kaplan of Boat Street Kitchen in Seattle. I like these grapes best within the first four days after they're made, but some people like them even more after a week or two. Their pickled flavor gets stronger over time, and their skins will wrinkle slightly."

1 pound red grapes, preferably seedless
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
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. 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. Makes about 3 cups.


Kate said...

Can we do a pickling party sometime? I have always wabted to jump into the pickling thing, but am too scared. Will you hold my hand? I'm sure Frank can think of all kinds of weird things to pickle...did I mention my little chihuahua's name is Pickles?!?!

hopscotch studio said...

I have been meaning to do a project like this for years! Thanks for the post!