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Pickled Prunes with Orange Zest

This recipe is adapted from one by Susan Kaplan of Boat Street Kitchen in Seattle. Pickling spice is a blend of whole spices used for pickling meats and vegetables. The ingredients vary, but most blends include cinnamon, mustard seeds, bay leaves, allspice, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander and mace. At Boat Street Kitchen, they make their own, but pre-made blends are easily available. For my pickled prunes, I've used McCormick's pickling spice, which I found at my local supermarket. If, in the cooking process, the prunes threaten to fall apart, remove them with a slotted spoon, reduce the syrup, and then add the prunes.

Makes about 3 cups

1 pound pitted prunes

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest of half an orange (zest should be matchstick size)

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon pickling spice

Pinch red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook gently until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to 1-quart, air-tight container and chill. Serve cold or at room temperature.

These pickles will keep, chilled, for at least 2 weeks.

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