Wild About - Grape Leaves


A few days ago, I was driving home from a job in the mountains, when I decided to stop by the creek to enjoy the cool water and a snack - you know, relax. But no sooner than I sat down, did I realize that I was surrounded by food. It was everywhere I looked! Whereas I used to look at such a scene and see plants in the generic sense, now I see specific foods.
So, despite the fact that I was hot and tired, I went back to my car, grabbed a bag and my camera, and picked myself some tasty treats.

Wild grapes (Vitis vulpina) are abundant in the lower mountain canyons here.  The shiny leaves, at first quite small, can eventually grow to be as large as my outstretched palm.  The younger leaves tend to be more tender.  But I nonetheless pick the larger ones, because they are fun to use for rolling up foods.  On this occasion, I simply wanted the grape leaves. However it is good to know that the young tendrils of grape plants are also edible. And of course the fruit is as well.  Green grapes can be used to make the tart sauce called verjus, and ripe grapes can be juiced, jellied, and so much more.

Preparing Grape Leaves


I started by removing stems, then plunging the grape leaves into boiling salted water for a few minutes. I then drained and submerged them in a bowl of ice water. After drying them off, they were ready to fill.

I tried three different fillings for the grape leaves. One batch was filled with chorizo, rice, purslane, and cheddar cheese. Another was filled with refried beans, roasted poblanos, and queso fresco. The last batch I turned into sushi, and filled them with seasoned rice, cucumber, trout, and spicy mayo. All three were great, but I think I was most excited by making sushi from the grape leaves.

It takes a little practice to get these to roll up tightly while keeping the filling contained. I had the best luck when I rolled from stem-end to tip of the leaf, using all of my fingers to keep the edges tucked in as I rolled.

I've had grape leaves out of a jar before, and I think I attributed their taste to the fact that they had been preserved. So I was a little surprised to find that grape leaves don't just taste green, they have a lemony and tart essence, which reminded me of sorrel. Keep that flavor in mind if you are inventing grape leaf recipes of your own.

Comments

  1. Yummy yum butter! This is so expanding my horizons! I of course, as a greek girl enjoyed many a dolmades, but I never thought to stuff the leaves with anything else! So gonna try this! i have a ton of grape leaves in the back yard! :) Alex@amoderatelife

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  2. Oh so glad you shared this on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! Cause that sushi version sounds awesome!~

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  3. I too have a lot of grape leaves of course on my grape vines in my yards. I might try this. I've never liked bottled grape leaves.

    I also will never look at the weeds that I now know are purselane in my garden the same way again. Thank you for another informative post.

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  4. Alex- I'm so excited about the prospect of making a more local (we'll overlook the rice!) sushi. The grape leaves worked just fine for rolling the sushi fixins.

    Bonnie- You have grapes in your yard? I'm jealous! I've gotta haul my tushie all the way to the mountains to collect more leaves. I'm thinking of canning them.

    Have you tried the purslane yet? I've been throwing it in pretty much everything I cook. I've got a good purslane "garden" growing in my driveway. I'm constantly threatening people who step on it!

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  5. Those look delicious - and how wonderful you found fresh grape leaves!

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  6. Great job, Butter...I love the sound of all three fillings! I love all of your foraging adventures ;)

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  7. Who would have thunk it? You are totally amazing.

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  8. I've never tried grape leaves but the sound of chorizo, rice & cheddar....mmmmm....I'm in!

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  9. I think it's wonderful that you noticed the grape leaves and were able to use them in such a fantastic recipe. Awesome post!

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  10. I'm actually planning a trip back to that spot, and hope to grab enough to can for the winter. I'd love to pull out a jar of grape leaf bundles and whip up some sushi for the new year!

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  11. I love love love sushi - I think these sound so amazing! I now am on the look out for grape leaves - you my friend have opened my eyes to some interesting foods/weeds/foods!! I would love to know how you can them.

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  12. Wild foods, Christy, wild foods!

    Oops, I keep eating all that I collect, I've yet to can any!

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  13. MMMMMMmmmmmm! Love stuffed grape leaves! We fill them with a mix of beef/lamb/rice with spices and lots of lemon! Also makes a useful "tool" to scoop up tabouli. (Traditional) Freezing works well. Just stack them on a paper plate and put it inside a freezer bag.

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  14. love the event
    dolmas are delicious looks like you had lots of fun

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  15. I also have try to make Gapes recipe because I have lots of grape leaves and after that I will surely shared my recipe here.

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  16. I think that fresh grape leaves can have different taste depending on the time (month or development stage they are in) you pick them up. So far, I have tried once the leaves picked in June - did not work so as you describe :)
    Anyway, reading your post I've got an interesting idea what I could cook (you know, those times when you read about something and suddenly get another idea out of nowhere :)! Thanks a lot!

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  17. That's interesting EWM. I imagine taste also varies with the variety of grape leaf being picked. I've only ever eaten the ones that grow wild next to the streams here. They have small leaves, but are quite lovely.

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  18. As I have no wine leaves I'm thinking to use whitecurrent leaves (as recently I have very little bush bought for my balcony :)

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  19. How late into the year can you eat grape leaves?

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