The recipe for spiced grapes that appears in Charleston Receipts is found throughout the South in cookbooks that antedate the Lowcountry classic. The tradition of serving spiced fruits with meats goes back to medieval England, with its spiced barberries. Without the cranberries of northern bogs, it is far more likely that early Charleston settlers served local grapes with their fall harvest feasts of venison and wild fowl. I make spiced grapes in much smaller batches than called for in the older recipes, reducing the sugar and spice and adding some onion and lemon juice and zest.
Remove any stems from the grapes, then pulp them by squeezing them with the stem end pointed down into a large saucepan. The pulp of the fruit will pop out. Set the skins aside.
Add the spices and vinegar to the pot and cook over medium heat until the seeds loosen, about 5 or 10 minutes.
Pass the mixture through a colander to remove the seeds, then return the vinegar and pulp mixture to the pot. Add the skins and the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and continue to cook until thick. Put the spiced grapes in a sterilized jar and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
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