Preserving Grape Vine Leaves

Jun 15th, 2008 | By | Category: Greek, How To, Main, Preserving





First off, allow me to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day and may you never EVER again receive the gift of an ugly neck tie!

Next, a little follow up. Some people have been wondering about Petimezi, which I used in a glaze for my grilled quail.

Petimezi is made from the Must of grapes, during the harvest period. It can be found in a jar in better Greek markets, it’s known as Saba with the Italians and one can often find or ask for “grape syrup” at a middle eastern market. All are one and the same.

Many of you read my blog as you love and enjoy Greek food. You also know that Greeks cook alot using grape vine leaves.

Many of us will go to a market and easily purchase a jar of these tender leaves which are packed in a brined solution. Some are fortunate enough to be able to have a local source of fresh grape vine leaves, which are used to make a Greek fave, Dolmades

There are two paths one can take to preserving fresh grape vine leaves: one is to freeze them and the other is to jar your own. For those that prefer to freeze them, Lulu at Mama’s Taverna has a wonderful, easy method to which you can follow.

My “mama” likes to jar her own. It’s been years since we’ve jarred our own grape vine leaves, due in large part to fear of harvesting grape vine leaves that might have been sprayed with pesticides.

One of the few positive initiatives of Mayor David Miller has been to ban the use of pesticides in the city. Rejoice…fresh grape vine leaves are back!

I’ve featured Dolmades on my blog and you can have a peek here or if that won’t convince you, take a look at my friends’ who loved my mom’s recipe…it’s a keeper.

Pixie’s Dolmades

White On Rice Couple’s Dolmades

Closest Cooking Kevin’s Dolmades

Jenn, the Leftover Queen’s Dolmades

Now let’s jar our own fresh grape vine leaves.

The best time to pick these leaves are in the Spring. You want to pick large leaves (easier to roll dolmades) and the leaves will still be tender.

If you’re having a peek at the recipe, you’ll see what appears to be a large amount of grape leaves but no worries. For anyone that’s bought jarred grape leaves from the store, you’ll know that there’s always some ripped and torn leaves in the jar. The home made ones are no different, there’s some wastage.

Jarring Fresh Grape Vine Leaves

6 medium Sterilized Mason jars
approx 360 fresh grape vine leaves, stems snipped

1 cup pickling salt

12 cups of water

1 egg

  1. Wash and pat dry your grape vine leaves and then divide them into piles of 20. Roll each pile like a cigar or multi-leaved dolma and place three rolls into each jar.
  2. In a large pot, add your water and pickling salt and bring to a boil. In order to test if your brine solution is salty enough, carefully drop an egg into the brine. If the egg floats, then your brine ratio is suffice.
  3. Take your brine off the heat and carefully pour the solution into each jar, enough to cover your grape vine leaves. When you’re done filling up all the jars, pour more brine into any jars that have absorbed the liquid.
  4. By this time, you will have noticed that the brine has changed the colour of your leaves from a vibrant green to olive hue. It’s perfectly normal.
  5. Using a tea towel, place the lids on each of the jars and tighten. A seal should form for each jar.
  6. Store in your cellar for up to one year.

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49 Comments to “Preserving Grape Vine Leaves”

  1. Heather says:

    Hey, are the leaves best to use at any certain time of year?

    Those cockatiels of yours spoke to me in my dreams and implored me to wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

  2. Ann says:

    I would so love to do this! Must look into some organic leaves from some of our local vineyards!

  3. Sam Sotiropoulos says:

    Great post Peter! I would love to come over and pick some grape leaves in the next couple days if you have any left! :)

  4. MEDITERRANEAN KIWI says:

    i like the look of this very much – i’ll try preserving our grape leaves like this instead of the deep freeze, as they are more likely to break there

  5. Alanna @ A Veggie Venture says:

    Dumb question (maybe) – are you cracking an egg into the water or dropping a whole egg in?

    And how long will preserved grape leaves last, unopened and once opened?

    BTW I’m on sure I’ve even eaten grape leaves before but thanks to your post, I’m felling compelled to preserve some!

  6. glamah16 says:

    Peter your pictures are stunning. If only I can find the leaves!

  7. Lulu says:

    Super info, Peter. I’m going to try this, it sounds easy enough. I don’t like being totally dependent on freezing everything, after all, what if there’s a power outage?

    PS Thanks for the link!

  8. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Peter, the dolmades look wonderful! I wouldn’t even know where to look for fresh grape leaves here.

    We just got back from a few days in Tarpon Springs. Ever heard of it? It’s a predominantly Greek community on the central Gulf Coast. OMG! We had some amazing Greek food! I saved the menus to remember what I had. I’ll have some questions for you when I dig them out of my suitcase! Opa!

  9. Ruth Daniels says:

    Peter, great post. I do have a grape leaf question. I boughts some at my neighborhood Middle Eastern Food Emporium to make Haloumi Stuffed Grape leaves http://recipesfrom4everykitchen.blogspot.com/2008/06/haloumi-baked-in-vine-leaves.html

    I have a few left over that are in a ziplock baggie. How long can I keep them like that?

  10. Maryann says:

    I never ate my grape leaves when I had some grape plantings, but maybe I should have. I always made wreaths out of the vines/leaves. That was before I knew your blog..now I eat dolmades :)

  11. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    We discovered some grape vines on our property when we bought this house, but we’ve never done anything with them. Thanks so much for sharing your method. I’m definitely going to harvest this week. How long will the brined leaves keep in the pantry?

  12. Peter M says:

    Heather, Spring is best..when they are tender. Choose the larger ones as they’ll be easier to roll later as dolmades.

    Ann, good luck…it’s quite easy to jar.

    Sam, I’ll show you my vine leaf patch but no telling!

    Kiwi, by all means…give this method a try.

    Alanna…NOOOOOO! You’re dropping the whole egg in to see if it floats or not. It will float only when enough salt makes it buoyant. Take the the egg immediately after conducting this “test”.

    Glam, Chi/town should have some too…similar climate to ours.

    Lulu, it’s my pleasure…hope this method works for you too!

    Sticky, yep…I know about Tarpon Springs…very Greek. Get settled in and fire off your questions…ok?

    Ruth, I assume they were in a brine? If there’s enough moisture, they should be good for another week.

    Maryann, you might still find some, while they are still tender too!

    Lydia, the leaves should be good for a year….enjoy!

  13. giz says:

    Ok, I like this idea. I have a ton of grape leaves in my back yard. Between my neighbour and I we must have 10 plants going wild back there. I’m doing this.

  14. Helene says:

    I don’t think that I’ll start pickling my grapes leaves but enjoyed that you share the recipes with us.

  15. Kristen says:

    Your blog is always so educational. What a great post!

  16. Christie @ fig & cherry says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this post – I was hoping it would never end! I love reading about new techniques. I’ll definitely be trying this.

  17. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Ah, this post came just in time. My uncle’s grape vines are quite abundant right now and need to be thinned anyway. :) Haha! When I first saw the egg in the list of ingredients, I was wondering what new brining technique you came up with. ;)

  18. White On Rice Couple says:

    Your mom’s recipe is awesome! We could eat these every day.
    We wannna jar our own grape leaves!! But we don’t have a grape vine! Darn it! Wait a minute….I think one of our neighbors grows some grapes in her yard. Maybe we’ll go beg for some all in the name of Kalofagas Dolmades!

  19. Dhanggit says:

    oh peter this is such a great idea…thanks for sharing the recipe now i can gather all those grape vine leaves in the house of my in laws i’ll just tell them its for my project :-) hehehe food project

  20. Lori Lynn says:

    Very interesting.
    What is the sauce in the first picture? Looks gooood!!

  21. Núria says:

    Hola! I could easily get some fresh ones direct from the vineyard… but I rather use cabbage for my meat paquetitos
    ;-). Nothing personal, darling! I’ll wait to have Dolmades with grape wine leaves until you cook them for me ;-)

  22. Judy @ No Fear Entertaining says:

    I know I can’t get fresh ones here to do this. So sad!!!

  23. Prudy says:

    Beautiful blog and I love the header with the beach writing. Your hamburger down there looks amazing!

  24. Peter M says:

    Giz, excellent…you’ll be able to make dolmades on a whim.

    Helene, they are an excellent ingredient..you should try them.

    Kristen, thank you…glad to have shared.

    Christie, you’re very welcome…I hope you find a patch of vine leaves.

    LOL @ Wandering…no eggs were harmed in this process!

    White Rice duo…there are various vine leaves that can be used…you’re in Cali…you should have no problem finding some.

    Dhanngit, you’re in Southern France…plenty of vine leaves there too!

    Lori Lynn, it’s Avgolemono Sauce…click “dolmades” to link to my recipe.

    Nuria, try it (vine leaves) before dismissing them.

    Judy, that FLA heat is too hot and besides…I doubt any are growing at your poolside! lol

    Prudy, thanks and welcome aboard..I hope to see you again here.

  25. Bellini Valli says:

    Thanks for the advice Peter:D

  26. kittie says:

    I am so jealous! If anyone knows where I could get fresh vine leaves in the UK, please let me know!!

  27. Fearless Kitchen says:

    This is great. I’ve always wanted to harvest the leaves in my parents’ backyard…

  28. Kevin says:

    Preserving your own grape leaves sounds like fun.

  29. Shayne says:

    I think I may try both if I get to the forest before it getsd too late in the year, heck it may already be too late

  30. Lori says:

    I love dolmades and would love to brine some leaves so I can make them when I choose. Every year I think where can I get my hands on some grape leaves. I live near the Finger Lakes, maybe some day I will have the nerve to go an ask at a vineyard.

    At what point do they start getting tough?

  31. Peter M says:

    Val, you’re welcome.

    Kittie, these vines should grow in the UK.

    Fearless, go for it!

    Kevin, it sure was.

    Shayne & Lori, you should be able to still find tender leaves unto the early summer.

  32. Núria says:

    You are right… I’ll try them first… seeing that you don’t want to invite me to have your dolmades ;-)

  33. Hunter Angler Gardener Cook says:

    Hey Peter,

    Can you do this with fig leaves? They are tougher than vine leaves, but also excellent for wrapping things.

  34. Peter M says:

    Nuria, be here tomorrow…around 7PM EST.

    Hank, the fig leaves would probably be too tough to use in this fashion and I really have never heard of fig leaves being consumed.

  35. Hélène says:

    Your blog is amazing. I love your cooking.

  36. Invite the Party says:

    Wow, you brought me back to my childhood. My Mother used to make Domathas using fresh grape leaves. There really is a totally different taste when you used fresh. Great blog!!

  37. Rachel says:

    What a valuable post, and, accompanied by your wonderful, light-filled photography. I’m so happy to have found this way to preserve some of the grape leaves that grow on our backyard vines. Thanks Peter!

  38. […] grape vine leaves (mine were hand-picked last year and jarred), fresh herbs imperative. If buying grape vine leaves from a store, taste them to see […]

  39. […] was just a year ago that I went and picked and jarred some grape leaves. Yesterday I went back to my “spot” and picked some more grape leaves but it looks like […]

  40. arfi says:

    Oh Peter, just as well I came to your blog. This is the recipe I’ve been looking for since ages! I surely bookmark this page and will certainly make it in Summertime while we’re going to have large amount of grape leaves in our orchard. Thanks for sharing this, Peter. Means a lot to me.

    Cheers!

  41. […] keeping with what’s fresh and seasonal, I also recently collected and jarred eight jars of grape vine leaves. I’m now stocked for the coming year, to make Dolmades on a whim with the tastiest and most […]

  42. Denise from Ark says:

    Peter, thank you for this. We moved to southern CA in April, and I just now found the recipe, so I am a little sick about the timing. But there’s always next spring! I do have a question: how important is it that the grapes are organically grown? I eat other non-organic foods, so if it would be safe to wash and eat the leaves (just as you would the actual grapes) then I would have a better chance of finding some next spring.

  43. Jean says:

    Will cherry leaves work the same way as grape leaves for brining?

  44. […] of you may have access to fresh grape vine leaves (like I am). I pick, wash and jar them with a brine solution and then available in my pantry all-year ’round. If you don’t want to jar grape-vine […]

  45. […] they are still tender, blanched and jarred with a lemon-brine. I pick and jar my own grape leaves (recipe here) but again, you’ll need the brine-packed grape vine […]

  46. […] pick and jar my own grape leaves each Spring and I do make my own Dolmades. I brought a jar of Marianna’s grape leaves back […]

  47. lo says:

    Peter – So no processing time for grape leaves, huh? Wow. That makes quick work of it!

  48. […] If you are feeling adventurous and have access to fresh grape vine leaves hop over to this article to learn how to jar them […]

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