Preserved Grape Leaves
May 28, 2011
Here in Sonoma County, California, we have more than our share of vineyards. For good or for bad, the apple orchards and more diversified crops have given way to hill after rolling hill of vineyards. Now that we are well into May, the vineyards are awash with green as the grape vines put out their leaves. So though the grape harvest is still months away, this is the ideal time to harvest grape leaves.
Harvest leaves from grape varieties that produce smooth and not fuzzy leaves. The leaves pictured are from a Thompson grape vine, but there are many, many possible varieties. Choose leaves that are large (the size of your hand) and not damaged by sun or insects. This time of year they are fresh, tender, and supple. Later in the season they will turn tough and not be as suitable for eating. Take care to ensure that you are not collecting leaves from vines that have been sprayed.
Preserving grape leaves could not be simpler. Trim the stem from the leaf. Blanch the leaves in salt water, roll them up in packs of 5 leaves, and pack them upright in a lemon and water solution. Jars can be processed for shelf storage or kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. I used mine to make dolmas! Here is the recipe.
Preserved Grape Leaves
adapted from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling
makes 1 pint
30 grape leaves (young and large)
1 quart water
2 teaspoons salt
Place leaves vein side up on a cutting board. Trim the stem from the leaf. I found kitchen shears to be the best tool for this job.
Bring 1 quart water and salt to a boil. Blanch the leaves for 30 seconds. Remove leaves from pot with tongs or a slotted spoon taking care not to rip them. Allow to cool in a bowl.
1 1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons lemon juice (do not use Meyer Lemons, they are not acidic enough)
Bring water and lemon juice to a boil. Stack leaves in piles of 5 and roll up from side to side. Place rolls upright in a sterile wide-mouth pint mason jar. Fold over tops to allow 1/2 headspace. Pour hot water/lemon juice mixture over the leaves leaving a 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rim of jar with a clean towel. Top with a lid and screw down lid. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath or keep in the refrigerator.
Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Preserved Grape Leaves
For more information on home canning see Home Canning Basics.
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