For example, grapes. Soaked in a vinegar-sugar brine with cinnamon and peppercorns.
And before you get too freaked out by the concept, think about some of those flavor back notes that might appear in some of your favorite red wines. Pepper and cinnamon may very well show up on the list.
Now these are only moderately fussy to prepare. 1) Boil & cool the brine; 2) Cut the tops off the grapes; 3) Place into canning jars & refrigerate.
If you can boil water and cut up fruit, you are 95% there. And the reward ratio is high.
Now, I know these little guys won't be for every one. And when you tell people what they are, be prepared for the raised eyebrow and the dubious glance.
Personally, I find them highly addictive.
Yes, I am a grape-crack addict. I probably need help.
This is totally the type of food I would eat if I were having a bout of "feeling sorry for myself". And a big bowl of popcorn.
And after the past couple of weeks that I had, I needed some comfort crack.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbs brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs pink peppercorns
2 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. salt
Rinse and pat dry the grapes (at this point, you can pull them from their stems or if you are feeling lazy, deal with them right on the vine...I took the lazy route). Using a sharp paring knife, trim away a small section of the stem end of the grape, you want to expose a bit of the flesh of the grapes. Divide the grapes among 2 quart-sized clean, dry canning jars.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat and let cool in pan.
Let brine cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator. Pour the chilled brine over the grapes (be sure to put one cinnamon stick in each jar) in their jars and then seal with the lids. Place the jars in the refrigerator for at least eight hours. That's it. You are done...
This recipe can easily be halved - but if you are going to go through all the trouble of cutting those little monsters, you might as well go big. Changing up the vinegars is a fun idea. If you wanted to sub sherry vinegar for the balsamic - go for it. If you have some champagne vinegar taking up space, squee - that would be amazing. If you don't have pink peppercorns - no worries, just use black or whatever you have on hand. Just sayin'
These go really nicely as part of a cheese/ hors d'ouerve course. Leftover brine makes a lovely base for a vinaigrette. Seriously - you should try it.