Steam-Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Pepper

A mechanical arm and a butterfly

Here’s another recipe from The Steampunk Cookbook!

(Sure, the “Steam” in this dish is from boiling water, but in my mind, there’s some sort of enormous machine, larger than a house, which does nothing but whirr alarmingly, crunch gears, and pickle grapes.  Actually, if you have such a machine, feel free to use it; otherwise, a saucepan will do.)

Much like Steampunk, this sounds bizarre but turns out to be lovely; also much like Steampunk, this goes wonderfully with cheese. And finally, people sometimes think this stuff is going to be too peculiar, but once they try it, they’re hooked; that is a PERFECT metaphor for Steampunk!

Of course, metaphors are intellectually satisfying, but to get the full benefit here, you should actually consume the dish in question.  And that means I’m going to stop talking, and get straight to the recipe.

Yield: 2 jars

Skill Level: 1

2 pint-sized/ 474 ml canning jars

1 pound red or black grapes, preferably seedless

1 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

(You can use cayenne or other spicy peppers, if you’re adventurous!)

1 cinnamon stick broken in half

1/4 teaspoon salt


Rinse and dry the grapes, and pull them carefully from their stems. Using a small sharp knife, trim away the “belly button” at the stem end of the grape.

 Divide the grapes among 2 clean, dry canning jars.

 In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

 Pour over the grapes and place one half of the cinnamon stick into each jar.

 Chill the grape and brine mixture in their jars in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight. Serve cold.