Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Preserve Grape Leaves

Summer is here and now is the time to harvest those grape leaves to eat at their tender best.
My son, Patrick, and I just did this. He showed me a spot near our backyard where he and my husband strung three strands of new barb wire fence for the horses last year. It's a perfect trellis for grapes. Most of the old grapes have thick vines and go to the tops of the trees, where I'm lucky to even see the leaves. But these are young plants taking advantage of that nice trellis. We picked a good mess. We all sampled the fresh leaves and agreed not to put them in a salad. Though young and fairly tender, they have a bit of a bitter taste.

Here is some information I gathered and edited for clarity.

Fox grapes are wild grapes. They make clusters like regular grapes and the leaves are the same, maybe not quite as large. The berries are about the size of large green peas, starting out green and turn almost black when ripe. There is not a lot of flesh as they are very seedy and if left on the vine until fully ripened in late fall, very sweet. The berry makes an excellent jelly.
Patsy, LA 4-12-2003

Claim is that 'table grape' leaves have less acidity than wine grapes, so the sweeter the grape the more mellow the leaves, as a rule of thumb - of course.
sneaky pete 7-13-1997

Pick leaves early in their growth period - that is early summer - when vines are well covered with leaves.

Choose leaves of medium light colour, not too young. If vines have been sprayed, wait for a period recommended for general harvest by manufacturer of insecticide. When picking, snip off stem.

Wash leaves and stack in piles of 24, with shiny side up. Roll up and tie with string.

Prepare jars. Wash, sterilize and hold in hot water until ready to use.

Make a brine of 8 cups water boiled with 1 cup rock salt. Keep hot.

In another pot, bring 8 cups of water to boil with 1/4 cup salt. Drop in 4 bundles at a time, return to boil and blanch for 3 minutes, turning rolls over to blanch evenly. Lift out, drain and pack rolls upright in warm sterilized jars. Pour hot brine over leaves, remove air bubbles and seal. Hold in water bath and repeat with remaining rolls. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Brine is sufficient for 20 bundles of leaves. Increase according to quantity being preserved.

From Charmaine Solomon in "
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook"

Grape leaves, either freshly prepared or preserved in brine, can be frozen. So if you don't like to can, you could freeze the leaves after blanching and draining.

Grape leaves are very forgiving. They are hard to ruin.
carol 6-15-1999

No comments:

Post a Comment