In Southern Ontario, the coming of fall is filled with talk about the condition of one of our most cherished crops: the grape. The source is, of course, the Niagara peninsula, one of North America’s most abundant and acclaimed wine regions. Admittedly, I was inspired by an unstoppable desire to try my hand at creating a recipe to preserve a few of these local treats.
Based solely on availability and economy, I chose an Ontario sourced variety of the Coronation grape. Coronation is an early ripening hybrid variety of grape developed in Canada and is virtually seedless. Although they tend to be a bit mushy when compared to other commercial varieties of grapes, I thought these grapes would be perfect smeared on a cracker or toast with some cheese.
I decided white wine vinegar was fitting. Ideally, I’ll muster up the patience to source a local variety for my next attempt. For the spicing, I decided on a simple blend of fresh rosemary, ground cinnamon, a chunk of fresh ginger and a few black peppercorns. In hindsight, a stick of cinnamon in each jar might make them look a bit better but I had to settle for ground cinnamon that day. The Recipe is as follows:
Makes 4 Small mason jars
2 Cups White Wine Vinegar
3-4 Cups Coronation Grapes (or any variety you please)
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A pinch of black peppercorns
4 small chunks of peeled fresh ginger, one for each jar
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, one for each jar
1. Sanitize each jar and lid thoroughly and rinse the grapes and rosemary
2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, ground cinnamon and peppercorns in a small pot or sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil.
3. Place a sprig of rosemary and a chunk of ginger in the bottom of each jar
4. Fill the jars with grapes to just below the rim. Make sure to take care not to squish the grapes if using a mushier variety such as coronation.
5. Let the vinegar mixture cool before pouring over the grapes and filling to the rim of the jar. A scalding mixture will cook the grapes and make them ever mushier.
6. Cap and refrigerate. They should be at their best for at least a week.
I couldn’t help but taste them after just 2 days. They were delicately tart and the white wine vinegar worked great with the natural grape flavour. The ginger and cinnamon provided a marriage of seasonal flavours that blended wonderfully to the earthy spiciness of the black peppercorns.