Summer might be the height of pickling and preserving season, but a recent trip to the market left me with plenty of fruits and vegetables that were just waiting to be put up. The inspiration for my fall pickling adventure came from Matt Lee and Ted Lee's Simple Fresh Southern, which includes a wealth of atypical pickling recipes that are ripe for the Thanksgiving table.
The first recipe that caught my eye was Pickled Grapes with Rosemary and Chiles. Pickled grapes might not be something that you'd normally associate with Thanksgiving, but here's some insight into my thought process: Green and grapes have always had a place in a cornucopia, the cornucopia is one of the most recognizable symbols of Thanksgiving, and I really like anything pickled. Pickled grapes seemed like a perfect predinner snack for my guests while they sipped their Celery Juleps.
And if I was making one pickle, why not make a second? These Gingered Beet Pckles sounded too good to pass up. So, there's about a week and a half left until Thanksgiving and my pickles are curing away on a cool, dark shelf. I gave them a little taste and they are well on their way. The grapes retained their sweetness and pop, but have adopted a pleasant acidity from the vinegar and a nice nit of chile. The beets still need some time to soften but the ginger had leant a warming spicy punch. With my cocktail and snacks already decided, planning the rest of the meal doesn't seem like such a daunting task.
Pickled Grapes with Rosemary and Chiles
- 6 cups stemmed mixed red and green seedless grapes (about 2 pounds)
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- Leaves from 1 four-inch long sprig rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red chile flakes
- One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into about 8 thin disks (1/4 cup)
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/4 pound red beets, peeled and very thinly sliced
Pack the grapes into 3 pint-size glass containers with lids. Pour the vinegar and 1 cup water into a saucepan, set it over medium-high heat, and add the salt, sugar, garlic, rosemary, and chile flakes. When the mixture starts to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and divide the hot brine among the pints of grapes. Cover loosely and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Gingered Beet Pickles
Pour 1 cup water into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the ginger, vinegar, salt, and sugar. When the brine simmers, add the beets, and when it returns to a simmer, continue to cook for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover loosely, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a quart-size glass container with a lid, and seal tightly. Chill further in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until ready to serve. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.