Pickled Grapes


I talked about these amazing grapes from Chef Duskie Estes years ago, when Katrina and I visited the now defunct Bovolo restaurant in Sonoma for brunch. I know the idea sounds ridiculous at first, but what you end up with are crisp, spicy, intense little bastards that go well alongside a breakfast sandwich, panini, or even as a snack alongside some nice cheese.

The key is to use the freshest, crispest grapes possible. You want these things to pop when you bite into them.

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of water
6 fresh ginger slices, about 1/4-inch thick
3 star anise
1/2 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons coriander
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1 pound fresh grapes, picked, rinsed clean and drained

In a non-reactive pan, combine everything but the grapes and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.

Place the grapes in a bowl that can withstand the heat and pour the brine over the grapes. Allow the grapes to steep until everything has cooled down. Strain the grapes from the marinade, rinse, then store in glass jars in the refrigerator. They will keep for around a month, if they even last that long.