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heidih

Young grape leaves

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I have a grape vine that will probably never produce grapes as it does not get enough full sun. Last year I got here when the leaves were already pretty large and tough so I used them as a bed for roasting things. Now I have the young tender ones to play with. I am thinking along the lines of stuffing them with just a bit of seasoned ground meat and grilling quickly. Has anyone played with these tart lovely leaves?

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We grow a number of varieties of table grapes. We give some of the leaves to a friend, whose parents were born in Greece, and she gave us her family recipe for stuffed grape leaves(which I haven't been able to find today)which consists largely of rice, herbs, and spices and is served with a lemon sauce. It is very nice dish on a warm summer evening.

We have found that some varieties of grapes produce more tender grape leaves but I never remember which ones from year to year so I have to go by appearance, feel, and foggy memory when I decide which ones to use. Sometimes I win and sometimes I don't.

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Heidi the young tender leaves are excellent. I do dolmades with them. You can pick a bunch, blanch them in salted water, stack and freeze them for later use throughout the year

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Heidi, I have also used our young merlot vine leaves. Blanched in salted water and then I put them in brine in a canning jar....my freezer is full. I think I got the recipe from the internet. They are lovely...not tough like the ones you can buy. I stuffed them in Greek style: rice and lamb.

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Yesterday my father informed me that the lush sprays of new growth on the grape vine were in fact sucking the life out of the grapes that had set, so I bit the bullet and pruned.

After some internet research and hands on clipping I agreed that the basic rule of taking the 4 leaves, 3 down from the very tender tip yielded supple ones. Some sprays were different so adjustment for reality is needed. I trimmed them very close to the leaf, but not so close as to cut into the leaf itself. I also trimmed a number of larger leaves to be used to line the pan or use as a wrapper destined for flavor and not to be eaten. The tender ones got stacked in piles of 20, rolled tightly, tied and dipped in boiling salted water, untied, patted dry, and cooled. I also kept some of the leaves that were super tender but looked like they would be too tiny to roll a filling into. All of them were separately packaged, labeled with their processing technique, and frozen.

In terms of Middle Eastern preps I gained lots of drool-worthy information from this topic.

I am going to do some test batches including using the larger leaves instead of lotus or banana to make miniature joong to be steamed, and also try a Southeast Asian influenced minced pork mixture for the grill. Will report back.

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When I saw the lotus leaf wraps in this topic (post #10) I decided I had to try out some kind of wrapped grape leaf dish today. For the filling I raided the mostly empty refrigerator and found a small chunk of fatty pork butt that had been roasted with masses of garlic and herbs. I chunked that up and processed it with serrano chile, sushi ginger, a whisper of dried cranberries, and very young green onions. I then stirred in just a few corn kernels, peas and peanuts, dash of fish sauce, lemon juice, pepper, and a few tablespoons of half cooked short grain rice. The defrosted and blanched grape leaves I picked and processed last weekend were easy to work with. It seems like the roll would be leaking filling because the leaves are deeply lobed, but if you just fold in an alternating manner you end up with a nice tight roll that is less than thumb sized. I put them in the bamboo steamer for about 45 minutes. VERY good. I had one tablespoon of filling left over so I clipped a fresh leaf and filled it. I think I actually preferred that one- it retained the tartness better. I think the leaves are a great way to use up some odds and ends and end up with something better than expected. My mind is going to masa as there is an excellent 24 hour(!)source within 15 minutes.

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Wow, Heidi -- that sounds great! I'm so jealous; I've always wanted my own grape leaves -- ever since I made stuffed grape leaves from a wonderful recipe in the Open House cookbook. Of course, we've lived in our house for 20 years now, so I don't know what exactly is stopping me from planting a vine or two...

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Lapin- even if you do not train and prune them for grapes, you can still get a nice harvest of leaves. I just polished off the last one (an entire steamer full but all I ate today...) and room temp was best.

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Here is the before shot. You can see the more green fresh one. After steaming they all looked the same. As noted- they were wonderful. And yes there are just a few that I rolled inside out towards the back- they are not as glossy- I was "on a roll"...

DSCN0146.JPG

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Those are little beauties, Heidi. A great success.

I wonder if I can use the multitudes of wild grapes leaves we have on the property?


Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I think so. Taste a young one and if it has a nice lemony zing I think you are good to go.

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I always use wild grape leaves. They're delicious and free. Find a vine with big ones, though, or it gets kinda fiddly.

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I meant to pick one to eat just as we were out for the evening walk tonight...and then forgot. They aren't very big. Fiddly? I'm a little reluctant to do certain kinds of fiddly.


Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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When softened in hot water the leaves become very easy to work with. I was able to fill the steamer tray in about 10 minutes and I am not a detail person.

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Oh, Heidi...my mouth is watering just looking at those beauties. You're right...they are perfect at room temp.

Every once in a while, a wild Concord grape vine shows up at the edge of our woods, but somehow my DH always manages to accidentally weed it out, despite years of my trying to train him to recognize grape vines. Sigh.

And I don't know which is more wonderful -- the scent when they're in bloom, or the scent when the grapes are ripe. Either one can just about make me swoon.

Maybe I can hack out some poison ivy and replace it with concord grapes instead...

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Not to torment you, but I made another batch yesterday. I think steaming gives a less "squooshy" result and I just take one or two out afterwards from the fridge and let them come to room temp and as I am working in the yard it is my fuel and treat. I did use some lemon zest this time and I think it brought out the lemony part of the leaves.

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Uh Huh...no torment intended, I'm sure. :wink:

OK, now make yourself some some preserved lemons, and mince a little in there, and I bet that will really rock!

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Uh Huh...no torment intended, I'm sure. :wink:

OK, now make yourself some some preserved lemons, and mince a little in there, and I bet that will really rock!

I have been reading the Preserved Lemon Topic for some time now. Thanks for the reminder. I think they would go well with some of the older leaves and a stronger meat like lamb. I put some slightly tougher leaves in the freezer to use as the steamer or pot lining without blanching them. I think some months of aging will soften them in the freezer so this may become a fall dish. Of course it is July in Southern California and the sun just came out at 3:30pm and it was drizzling this morning.... The preserved lemons I think I will experiment with the next time I snag some unsprayed specimens from family or friends.

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Good idea, Heidi -- you do really need pesticide-free lemons if you're going to preserve them.

But I wouldn't hesitate to put a decent amount of finely minced (preserved or not) lemon rind in a mixture of rice and with lots of mint and parsley, some chicken stock, pine nuts, and dried currants to balance the flavors.

I'll be interested to see how your freezer experiment goes.

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Almost a year to the day it was high time to prune the grape vines for the season.

I ended up using every last frozen one but never really ventured far from my original stuffing and steaming as it was so well received and requested. I will try to branch out a bit this year.

Today I did a portion of the pruning and processed the leaves by blanching, drying and freezing in bags for future use. In the next week I hope to experiment with some of the fresh very young leaves without blanching them and will report back. The lemony and herbal scent as I worked with the leaves was uplifting.

For those interested in the process, here is a quick overview:

Part of the unruly vines

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One of several bowls of the snipped off leaves that are the right size and texture

DSCN1061.JPG

The leaves rolled up loosely in packets before blanching. This keeps them from getting tangled and torn

DSCN1066.JPG

How they look blanched

DSCN1068.JPG

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Heidi, that is not only a beautiful set of pictures but an excellent tutorial on getting grape leaves from vine --> table.



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I played with leaves today in both raw and lightly blanched versions.

First up was a quartet of flavors wrapped in raw leaves and cooked in a hot, lightly oiled, cast iron pan.

The 4 flavors:

- feta cheese

- a shrimp nestling a roasted peanut with a drop of sesame oil and a drop of fish sauce

- a slice of meatball (from freezer/mildly seasoned) with a dab of Dijon mustard

- a bit of salami and swiss cheese rolled around a pickled nasturtium seed pod

The untreated leaves are a bit difficult to roll as they are deeply lobed. I used the pestle to hold them down.

DSCN1075.JPG

Here they are in the hot pan after turning once. They look charred but there was not any bitter flavor

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On the plate (I could not resist using a grape decorated Metlox Pottery plate as it was a local pottery and the owner was a fixture in my neighborhood growing up.

DSCN1080.JPG

Flavor analysis: the leaves were a bit chewy but not unpleasant. The lemony leaf flavor was detectable. The feta only version was too salty - perhaps adding more of the cheese would have resulted in it not concentrating and drying so much. The shrimp was good but gotta lose the sesame oil- overwhelming. The meatball was a nice munch. The salami/cheese/nasturtium was the flavor winner.

I went for round 2 and blanched some leaves. I added feta to the meatball which made it more interesting. I tried a 12 year old cheddar - not a good idea on its own. I switched the shrimp up with a drop of soy and a dablet of fresh chili sauce and that was really nice.

Overall I think they can be used in a quick pan grill prep but there will be a chewiness factor. As a quick interesting last minute appetizer when people show up - I think these can be a fun way to use what you have in the fridge. I did not venture into dipping sauces as I wanted to taste them unadorned for the first go.

Here they are in the pan in the blanched version. Much tighter wrap.

DSCN1081.JPG

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