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.

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