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On those nights when I find myself on my own for dinner, my favorite thing to make is a cheese course for one. I pick up a couple tiny wedges of cheese from Di Bruno Brothers and create a tasting plate of preserves and condiments from the array of jams, chutneys, marmalades and pickles that multiply in my refrigerator.
As someone who was raised to believe that dinner must include a protein and a green vegetable, eating a meal of little tidbits perched on crackers feels entirely rebellious.
When I know that there's a solo evening on the horizon, I check my stock of pickled grapes. Though any number of pickles and jams go nicely with cheese, my very favorite pairing is a bracing aged cheddar with a pickled grape.
Much like the other fruit I've been pickling, (like prunes or kumquats) these pickled grapes are a sweet pickle. The sugar balances out the astringency of the vinegar and leaves you with edgy burst of sweet-tart flavor.
I've also been known to scatter them on salads or just eat them straight from the jar. If you haven't tried pickled grapes, I seriously urge you to.
Before You Get Started
Look for firm grapes that haven't yet started to wrinkle around the stem end.
Don't skip the step that has you trim away a thin flap of grape by that same stem end. If you don't prep the grapes in this manner, the pickling liquid doesn't have a good way to get into the grape.
Let these rest at least a day before you eat these pickled grapes, two days is even better. Eat them with cheese, eat them with pâté, just eat them!
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About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars.