You know I love useful, edible plants. And grapevines not only produce the most delicious fruit, they also have tasty, edible grapevine leaves. Grapevines are doubly useful, doubly delicious! But before you seek your nearest vine and start snacking, they need some very simple preparation before they can be eaten.
I have two grapevines at my house and one that likes to visit us from next door. Both of my vines are seedless, ladyfinger table grapes, one red variety and one white.
I’m collecting the grapevine leaves for pickling in the early spring, just as the leaves emerge. They are tender, beautiful, big and unblemished, perfect for pickling!
My grapevines are susceptible to powdery mildew and the time is fast approaching when I will need to start spraying with lime sulphur to ensure my grapes are not ruined with the fungus. So I will be sure to pick enough leaves to last me until next season.
Grapevine leaves are a great pantry staple. They are used in the preparation of one of my favourite tapas, the dolmade. Stuffed with rice, they are the tastiest snack, although I could happily demolish a meals-worth of them with a glass of chilled champagne!
I have always purchased my grapevine leaves from a specialty store, but they have stopped stocking them. So, it is high time I learned how to do it myself. Today’s recipe is a bit of an experiment! I’m hoping they work beautifully!
Harvesting your grapevine leaves
Choose large, unblemished, tender beautiful green leaves, just like this one…
And here’s a pro-tip, leave a long stem on your grapevine leaves! It gives you a handle when you dunk the leaves into the simmering brine.
This recipe makes about 3 dozen’s worth but is easily multiplied. If you have more on hand, pick them!
Pickled Grapevine Leaves
You will need
- 48 (more or less) fresh grapevine leaves
- 1/3 cup of salt
- 1 litre of water
- Ice and cold water in a large bowl
- 1/4 cup of Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- cooking string and a clean tea towel for draining
- Canning jar & canning pot
Add your salt and water to a large pot and bring to a boil.
While you wait for your brine to boil, rinse your grapevine leaves and examine them to ensure there are no bugs or blemishes on the leaves. Stack them neatly, stem side up, ready to submerge into the boiling brine.
When your brine has boiled, add a leaf to the brine and swirl until the colour changes from bright green to a dull green colour. For me, this only took a few seconds. Then plunge your blanched leaf into a bowl of ice water.
Keep going until you have blanched all your leaves. Yes, its a process! Make more brine if you need it, and refresh your ice water if it becomes warm.
Drain you your blanched leaves in a colander lined with a clean tea towel. The leaves will be a bit delicate, so carefully arrange and stack 6 leaves on top of each other. Trim the stem off as you go.
Then fold in the sides of your grapevine leaf stack and roll into a cigar shape. Tie carefully with your cooking string and keep going until you have bundled all your leaves.
Pack your leaves into a canning jar and add the lemon juice. Cover the leaves with the remaining cooking brine and seal the canning jar.
Your huge stack of leaves should now fit in a one-pint Mason jar!
If you intend to use these leaves within the next fortnight, place them in the fridge to cool. But if you want to store them until next season, process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes, allow to cool then label and store in a cool, dark place.
These vine leaves are now ready to use, and are a key ingredient in dolmades. They are versatile and can be used to wrap vegetables before steaming and baking, layered in moussaka and are fantastic presented simply on a tapas platter, delicious wrapped around grilled eggplant and vegan fetta.
Have you tried pickling your own vine leaves before? Have any hot tips you are happy to share? I would love to hear from you, please leave a message below.