Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes for Thanksgiving

by Dorothy Reinhold on November 21, 2013

Print This Post Print This Post Sweet and sour pickled grapes are wonderful with sandwiches, cold meats, roasted chicken or turkey (Thanksgiving!), lamb, sausages...anything!

I’m grateful for many things. My husband and children, first and foremost. My family, friends, neighbors and community – both literal and virtual. My home, the material possessions that make my life comfortable, my country and the natural beauty that surrounds me.

I’m grateful for all of it…every bit, every day, in every way.

And the food; always the food. As we come up upon the most food-centric day of the year, I am mindful that my gratitude also extends to the farmers who grow it, the field hands who pick and pack, the distributors, the truckers, the companies who sell and market to us so we know what is available.

Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly DeliciousI am grateful for the entire food chain, including the talented cooks and cookbook authors who create new recipes to entice us, who teach us new tricks with old ingredients, and who bring joy to the end game in our kitchens.

My latest discovery is a wonderful book, “Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling and Preserving,” by Kevin West (2013; Alfred A. Knopf; $35). Each page is a revelation, a story about an old-timer who knows his or her stuff, inventive heritage recipes for using up the bounty, gorgeous real world photos, poems as needed for grace, and a quiet authority about the art and science of putting things up.

You could spend a month poring over this worthy book. I intend to.

But before I disappear into these pages and don’t reappear until the new year, I made a recipe that jumped off the page at me and whispered in my ear. I am grateful I succumbed to its charms, because Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes is a recipe I’ll make each year in late fall when the California grapes are at their peak.

Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly DeliciousCatherine Plagemann wrote a 1967 cookbook, “Fine Preserving,” that was considered an obscure masterpiece. The preeminent food writer M.F.K. Fisher discovered it and listed the pickled grapes as one of her favorite recipes, which caused the book to be reprinted in 1986, and thus saved for a new generation. And now Kevin West has thankfully resurrected the recipe again, adapting it in his new book.

Thank you Mrs. Plagemann, M.F.K. Fisher, and Kevin West, for this gift, perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

Make them today and eat the first of them, in gratitude, at your Thanksgiving table. If there are any left, they will keep well for weeks (months, really!) in the refrigerator. I might have enough for Christmas, too!Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly Delicious

Recipe: Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes

Summary: Sweet and sour pickled grapes are wonderful with sandwiches, cold meats, roasted chicken or turkey, lamb, sausages…anything!


  • 3 pounds seedless red Flame grapes (I used green, red and black Muscato Grapes)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half (I used a 3-inch cinnamon stick in each jar)
  • 4 small sprigs fresh or dried thyme (I used a fresh thyme sprig in each jar)
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

InstructionsMrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly Delicious

  1. Prepare your jars by immersing them and the lids in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This will make them squeaky clean. Remove from water and allow to dry. Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly Delicious
  2. Choose grapes that are freshly picked, firm and crisp. Remove them from the stem and wash well. Pack them snugly into four prepared pint jars. It’s fine to compress the grapes to squeeze in a few more, but don’t crush them. Tuck half a cinnamon stick and a small sprig of thyme into each jar.Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly Delicious
  3. Combine the vinegar, sugar and shallots in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Ladle the boiling syrup over the grapes to cover, seal the jars and store in the refrigerator. This will give you the best texture.Mrs. Plagemann’s Savory Pickled Grapes on the blog Shockingly Delicious
  4. Serve cold, drained of the syrup.
  5. For long-term shelf storage, leave a generous ½ inch headspace when you ladle the boiling syrup over the grapes. Seal and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes (usual canning procedure).
  6. Makes 4 pint jars.


I made 8 jars. Each of my jars held 27-30 grapes, and I made 1.5 times the recipe to create enough syrup for my 8 jars.


Saving the Season book cover“Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling and Preserving,” by Kevin West (2013; Alfred A. Knopf; $35). Recipe reprinted with permission.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Diet type: Vegan
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★

Disclosure: The publisher sent a copy of the book for review. Melissa’s Produce sent the grapes for recipe testing. The surfboard bamboo serving board is by Totally Bamboo



{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenni November 7, 2017 at 4:34 am

Oh, wow! I have never heard of pickled grapes before but now I want to try them! Love the combo of cinnamon and thyme!


Tiffany November 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I have never had pickled grapes. Yes, this would be wonderful for Thanksgiving and I can give my guests a jar to take home!


Dorothy Reinhold November 7, 2017 at 8:34 am

I love that idea!


Sandi November 5, 2017 at 9:19 pm

What a fun idea…this pickling fruit is new to me.


Dorothy Reinhold November 6, 2017 at 5:34 am

You need to try it! It’s a whole sweet-sour thing, like bread-and-butter pickles.


Krista November 5, 2017 at 8:24 pm

This I am going to have to try!


Colleen November 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I love this! Preserving is a thing for me, but I never thought of pickling grapes, even though I grow them. Thanks for the inspiration.


Dorothy Reinhold November 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Wow, you GROW grapes? Then this recipe is right up your alley!


Catalina @ Peas & Peonies November 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Wow! These look amazing! I am going definitely going to try them!


carrie @ frugal foodie mama November 4, 2017 at 6:39 am

I would have never thought to pickle grapes! Very interesting idea.


Sabrina November 3, 2017 at 10:46 pm

I’ve never had grapes like this before! I can’t wait to try this out on Thanksgiving!


Nutmeg Nanny November 3, 2017 at 7:44 am

What a great idea!! Thank you for sharing! Sounds delicious!


Andrea November 3, 2017 at 7:08 am

VERY important we honor the food we eat and the One who created it and created ALL things! 🙂


wendy December 23, 2013 at 6:21 am

This sounds fantastic. And what would happen if I cut the grapes in half?


Dorothy Reinhold December 23, 2013 at 8:03 am

These pickled grapes are SOOOOO good! I think they would really shrivel if you cut them in half, and would leak their juice. Why don’t you try one small jar of cut grapes, and the rest whole, and after a few days, see which you prefer!


Lindsay Albert November 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

Sounds wonderful! How long do they need to marinate before you can eat them?


Dorothy Reinhold November 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I ate some in a couple of hours, but they are best the next day, and 3 days later, and a week later.


ConnieK November 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Amazing recipe! And believe it or not, I once cooked for M.F.K. Fisher in my late 20’s. She was a friend of my Aunt who was an artist in San Francisco and she came over to dinner. I don’t remember what I made but if I had known who she was I would have been too afraid to cook ANYTHING! I love her writing about food. Nice memory


Dorothy Reinhold November 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Love it when a recipe sparks an ancient memory. The best kind!


Erika {In Erika's Kitchen} November 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

Putting this on my weekend to-do list.


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