Homegrown jalapeño chile peppers and coriander mix with vinegar, ginger, sugars and spices to make a festive gift for the holidays.
The magazines that clutter my desk from October through December are loaded with recipes for cookies, candy and sweet holiday treats that look irresistibly delicious. But I’m always on the lookout for ways I can use goodies from my garden to create savory treats, too.
One of my favorite gifts to grow, make and give is a jar of spicy pickled grapes. The red and green grapes fit the colors of the season and the recipe lets me use some of my garden-grown jalapeño peppers and coriander seeds. It’s an added bonus if you grow your own grapes, too.
Jalapeño chile peppers are easy to grow and are an essential ingredient for flavoring Mexican food dishes and are used to add some heat to Thai and Chinese recipes, too.
Cilantro is a quick-growing herb, so plant cilatro successively through the growing season to assure a continuous crop. Let a few plants go to seed so you can harvest the coriander to use for cooking throughout the fall and winter.
The spicy grapes are pickled in a simple brine before packaging them in small jars. Not only do the grapes make a statement as a tasteful gift, they’re delicious as an accompaniment to meat and curry dishes, an interesting condiment on an appetizer tray or a flavorful addition to a fruit salad.
If you didn’t grow seedless grapes, or can’t find them at the grocery store, simply cut seeded varieties in half and scoop out the seeds before adding them to the sauce mixture.
Try these grapes this holiday season and then plan on adding a few more jalapeño plants and cilantro to your garden next spring. Why not plant a few extra grape vines while you’re at it?
Spicy Picked Grapes
1 ½ cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
7 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 3-inch long piece of fresh ginger (about the diameter of a dime)
3 jalapeño peppers
3 cups seedless grapes
Thinly slice ginger and jalapeños and set aside. Wash, stem and sort through grapes and discard any soft or blemished grapes. Combine vinegar, white and brown sugars, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in ginger, jalapeños and grapes. Let cool for one hour or more. Spoon the grapes and juice into jars and cover with tight-fitting lids.
Kept covered and refrigerated, these grapes will last for several months with the flavor deepening over time.
When giving as a gift, it’s a nice touch to wrap the jar in colorful cellophane wrap, tie with a floppy bow and attach a copy of the recipe.