Pickled Grapes

I often go for months without eating grapes but there have been summers when the vine in my garden has been so productive it’s forced me to think outside and way beyond the box with what to do with the sweet, little green grapes. I’ve crushed them for squash, cooked them with pigeon, turned them into jam, added them to pickles and fruit salads, peeled their skins for jelly and I once pressed them all over a heart-shaped soft cheese for a Valentine gift. Not forgetting freezing them. They would work in Scandinavian Iced Berries served with Hot White Chocolate Sauce (a hit from Mark Hix at The Ivy). Lately I’ve been thinking how I can incorporate grapes into toasted sandwiches for a toasted sandwich menu I’m working on for my nephew’s winery in NSW. They are a succulent revelation roasted in Brie, Roasted Grapes and Pickled Cucumber Toastie but my latest discovery is pickled grapes. The pickling vinegar is flavoured with flakes of dried chilli, garlic, bay and ginger, briefly simmered with salt and sugar, the liquid poured over the grapes and left until cooled. Pickles and pickling liquid is transferred to jars and will keep in the fridge for weeks – some chance in this house. If the grapes are large or not pitted, they could be sliced or halved, the pips swiped away before pickling. Mine were a regular size and pitted, so I left them whole.

To fill 500g jam jar:
25g piece fresh ginger
200ml cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
generous pinch dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp white sugar
200-300g pitted grapes

Slice the ginger thinly and place in a small saucepan with the vinegar. Crack the garlic, flake away the skin and quarter lengthways. Add the garlic, bay leaf, chilli flakes, sugar and generous pinch salt to the pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring or swirling the pan as the sugar dissolves. Place the grapes in a jam jar and pour over the vinegar, tucking ginger, garlic and bay down amongst the grapes. Cover with a stretch of clingfilm and leave to cool. Remove the clingfilm, cover with the lid and chill until require. Ready to eat after an hour but flavours develop and permeate the grapes the longer they are stored.