Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Canning Wild Grape Leaves

The wild grapes in our yard are still small and hard, but there is plenty of vine with no grapes on it at all. In order to encourage the vines which are growing grapes to put all their energy into those grapes, we can trim away the non-productive vine. But there's no reason to just compost the whole vine. The young leaves are part of a greek delicacy called dolmades (we'll make that later) and can be prepared and canned and saved for later.

Here's how we did it:

* Choosing healthy looking leaves about the size of our hands, we trimmed the stem off and washed them thoroughly (watch for bugs which like to spin sticky little homes on the undersides) Again, our leaves have not been sprayed with anything, so we're washing for bugs, dirt and poison ivy oils.

* In the meantime, we prepared two baths on the stove. One very salty (think sea water), boiling rapidly and one of ice water. Not shown is another bath, used for sterilizing our jar and lid. 

* We boiled the leaves in the brine for about 30-45 seconds then transferred them to the ice water using a slotted spoon

* Once the leaves were cooled, we stacked them in groups of five and rolled them, in the same direction as the veins, into cigar-like rolls. Some of the bigger leaves needed to be gently folded down so they would fit in our jar with some head-room

* We made six rolls and  they took up about half the space available in the jar. You can pack them quite a bit tighter if you wish - just leave a small amount of space for expansion. Once they were all in the jar, we poured a boiling solution of 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice and about 3 parts water over them, up to the neck of the jar.

* We capped the jar tightly, then submersed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. You don't have to do this step with a naked baby in your other hand, but sometimes naked babies are inevitable.

That's it! These'll keep on the shelf for at least a year.

Canning Wild Grape Leaves on Punk Domestics


  1. I've been wanting to do this with some of the grape leaves on the vine overhanging the yard behind us. I have no idea if it's worth trimming only a jar's worth off (given that we'd be stealing the leaves...).

    I've also read that adding a grape leaf or two to lacto-fermented vegetables helps add crunch.

  2. I saw a recipe for sauerkraut that called for a grape leaf on top. I didn't realize that was why. I just figured it was a flavour thing, or possibly a yeast-related thing.

  3. oh, and: you should totally come out and see us. We'll take you out back and you can harvest a few jars worth of the wild vines. It only makes the grapes come in better and we're certainly not going to get to them all. I will warn you though, that there's some pretty brambly tall grasses to hike through. Bring boots and jeans if you do come :)

  4. I'm so doing this. Most likely with a naked baby in the other hand.

  5. Any experience harvesting grape leaves late in the season? Most info suggests harvesting in spring. I was out collecting wild grapes yesterday - on Grand Island - and thought about it. stumbled on your blog just now.