pickled grapes with cinnamon and black pepper

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Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
Adapted from A Homemade Life, where it was adapted from a Susan Kaplan recipe

I know it takes some time to mentally get around the idea of pickled grapes — heck, even my pickle-loving husband was frightened of them, not that I think a guy who eats pickled watermelon reserves the right to judge — but even if you are a pickle-phobe, I believe these grapes in a syrupy vinegar could convert you. Their flavor profile is more dessert than dinner. The brine is sweet, and the pucker is at a minimum, but with just enough to get a zing of flavor from the pale presence of vinegar that you know you’re eating something spectacular.

Makes about 3 cups

1 pound red or black grapes, preferably seedless
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds (hm, mine might have been yellow? I was unconcerned.)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick, cut in half (if using two jars, otherwise leave whole)
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 (and try not to eat all of the belly buttons at once, m’kay?), exposing a bit of the flesh inside. Divide the grapes among 2 pint-sized clean, dry canning jars.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then you have two choices. The original recipe has you pour the bring mixture over the grapes and let them cool together. I personally prefer a cold brine on certain foods, not wanting to wilt the fresh fruit, so I cool the brine completely before pouring it over. The former will yield a more tender pickle, and it will pick up the brine’s flavor faster. The latter will take a bit longer to souse, but the grapes will stay more firm. Both will be delicious.

Once cool, chill the grape and brine mixture in their jars in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight. Serve cold, perhaps at a cheese course, and I say you should let people figure out for themselves what they’re eating.

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