Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt


Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

“Real life, I’ve finally learned, is created by stacking normal days, one on top of the other, for decades, and living each of those days as fully as possible, embracing whatever each day brings.” Richard Dahlstrom

With pen in hand and frustration flowing like ink, I wrote in my journal a couple months ago about how I was like a hamster running around in a wheel going nowhere. The second I finished writing the last ‘e’ I looked at the word and was struck by how wrong I was. This is where I get stuck over the details and wonder how many of them are necessary but bare with me because there is a point and I think somehow I can get it back to pickled grapes. We’ll see.

I’ve lived much of my life moving from one goal to the next and somewhere in there when I was working hard on the current goal; getting out of our tiny townhouse into a slightly bigger home, I failed to see the successes of our normal days and only saw my own failings because I had not yet met the latest goal.

Dreams are good, goals are good but not when they cast a shadow over our every days. Not when I determine I’m going “nowhere” or doing “nothing” because I’ve yet to meet that particular goal. You know what would happen the second I met that goal? I’d come up with another one and feel  like that hamster in a wheel all over again.

I’m paying more attention to our normal. Giving more notice to the every day and adjusting my attitude to gratefulness rather than longing. I’m enjoying this day and then stacking it on the next one amassing a pile days filled with end of the year parties, first bike rides, playing UNO in the sun, eating Tacos at Essex, ballet recitals, movie nights with the kids, popcorn and far too much candy and movie nights with girl friends who love a good feast.

And this is where the grapes come in. It seems sort of strange, right? Pickled grapes. But if you’ve been around here for long you know that I tend to pickled just about anything (Peaches, green beans, cherries, scallions, etc.) so you shouldn’t be too surprised. I was going to let these go unnoticed but then I started to realize that this is the sort of recipe that has been a part of the stacking of days. These were a hit at a friend’s gallery walk and played a role in our movie night last week.

I prefer the grapes to be lightly pickled. The apple cider vinegar is cut with a bit of water and I tend to start eating them after only a couple of hours in the brine. They still taste of grape but there is a pleasant tanginess and a soft warmth. They sit beautifully on a cheese plate especially when left on the stem (just be sure to let people know they are pickled). They are also lovely alongside grilled pork or chicken. However you like to eat them they are just the recipe to help embrace whatever the day brings.

Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt


Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt


Pickled Grapes // Not Without Salt

*One more thing before you go. Gabe and I had such a great time teaching Food Photography at Aran’s studio and the response was so lovely we decided to do it again this October. Check out Aran’s blog (Cannelle et Vanille) for all the details. It’s an inspiring two days that includes a trek around Pike Place to gather ingredients and take our cameras out to the streets. I’d LOVE to meet some of you there. Registration has just opened. Thanks!



Pickled Grapes

Serve these on a cheese plate or tuck inside a picnic basket for a refreshing bite. Here I’ve paired it with a beautiful Parmesan that was sent to me by Italy Terra.


1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon whole coriander

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

pinch salt

1 large bunch of red grapes


Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, brown sugar, and pinch of salt in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Submerge the grapes in the hot brine and let sit until cool. You can pluck the grapes off the vine and place them in jars and then top with the brine but I like to present the grapes on the stem.

Refrigerate the jars or the whole pot once cool.

Pickles are ready to serve once chilled or will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

27 Responses to “Pickled Grapes”

  1. Kathryn

    Yes, yes, yes! I’m so guilty of focussing on what’s next that the moment actually passes me by and yet, the moment is all that really matters.

    • Sandra Harris

      That balance between being in the moment while also looking ahead at where we will be next is such a balancing act, eh?

      Good news on your next workshop at Aran’s studio. And anyone reading this who is considering it, I was at the first one and thought it was great. Well worth it with a mix of the art and technical sides of food photography.

  2. Shanna Mallon

    It is so wise to realize what won’t really satisfy. I love that your blog is a place where I can count on truths like this one, alongside beautiful food. You are so right.

  3. Leah Davis

    Thank you so much for the reminder to try to be in the present! It is hard to be satisfied with where we are in this moment – I suppose that is what keeps us all pushing toward certain goals. Lovely pictures as well 🙂

  4. J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

    Very different. I think with how sweet grapes can be the vinegar would give them a bit of an edge and could make them a pretty great addition to a lot of things. I want to try this with a spelt or millet grain salad + lots of thyme and feta cheese 🙂

  5. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist

    The pictures are gorgeous, as always. I’ve never thought to pickle grapes, but now I so badly want to host a small get-together just to make a cheeseplate with these on it. Beautiful.
    And I SO wish I could go to that photography weekend. Dying.

  6. Louise

    This is so beautifully worded. I was just talking with a friend about how I tend to judge the sucess in my life by what I have accomplished. Because I’m still in the town I grew up in I feel like I’m failing, when in fact my “life” is happening all around me. This is a great reminder to enjoy the little things, I always enjoy your posts and recipes. Thank you!

  7. Kacie

    This recipe sounds awesome. We (my husband and I) fell in love with pickling last year and I’m excited about anything that can be dunked. Also, yes, staying in the moment and being grateful for every day is an ongoing challenge. Sometimes the longing part is easier. Gratitude is definitely key. xo


  8. Pang

    I have not been ‘here’ long, but I am already hooked and will be back more often 🙂
    This is just a type of recipe I really long for, beautiful, creative, easy and crowd-pleaser.
    I am loving LOVING this 🙂

  9. Cristina

    Hello. I’m from Barcelona (Spain). We have a said here, “uvas con queso saben a beso”, what would be “grape with cheese taste like a kiss”. Oh, you see? It sounds good in English as well!
    Thank you for all the things you give us

  10. Kasey

    Ashley, thank you for this post. It resonated so much, especially this part: “Dreams are good, goals are good but not when they cast a shadow over our every days. Not when I determine I’m going “nowhere” or doing “nothing” because I’ve yet to meet that particular goal.” I’m like you, always trying to climb the next mountain, not appreciating the normal as much (mostly getting overwhelmed by it). Reminders like this are priceless. xo

  11. Kelven

    Wow, that is pretty neat. Never had pickled grapes before but that looks like something worth trying.

  12. Lauren

    Richard Dalhstrom lectured at a school I was at in 2010! What a lovely surprise, loving the blog!

  13. Abigail

    I recently tried pickled grapes for the first time at Seaglass, the explOratorium’s café. As I thought they were olives, I was surprised and intrigued by the flavor. I’ll be trying this recipe today.