Friday, August 30, 2013

Preserved Grape Leaves

The house next door to us has sold.  Sadly, the couple with a little girl that wanted to buy it didn't get it.  Instead, it's destined to be a rental again.  The new owner has replaced the roof and torn out all the carpeting.  I'm hopeful he'll be a conscientious landlord as he stops by frequently to check in on the house.  The previous owner was an absentee landlord who lived in CA and whose brother lived some 40 miles away.  The plan was to move into the house after her son graduated from high school.  Riiiiight.  From what we saw, the plan was to continue accepting rent money but not to pay the mortgage or do a damn thing about upkeep.

The massive arbor that threatens to take over our house is still there, weighed down by grapes, honeysuckle, climbing roses, and something else I don't know.  We have to keep a close eye on the grapes, lest they go through another overnight growth spurt and finish their attempts to remove all of the gutters from our house.


But they're a free source of grapes for our hens, and grape leaves for us.  The invasive grape plant needs to be put to good use, so I'm going to pick some leaves from my side of the fence (NOT STEALING, PEOPLE, NOT STEALING!!) and preserve them for winter dolmades.

OMG.  Grape leaves are expensive!

I was glad to have washed the grape leaves before I went to the next step of blanching them.
Blanched - note color change

Preserved Grape Leaves (from

30 grape leaves per pint
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice per pint
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea.
  2. Bring a canning kettle or other large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  4. Dip the grape leaves in the boiling salt water for 30-45 seconds, then drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain them once all the leaves are fully cool.
  5. Working with about 6 grape leaves at a time and roll them up from the side.
  6. Pack the rolled up leaves into the jar (you will likely need to fold one of the ends down to make them fit), leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space at the top of the jar.
  7. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add the lemon juice. Boil for a minute or two, then pour over the grape leaves to cover them.
  8. Clean the edges of the jar and seal the jar. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Let cool and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
Once they're processed, they look like, well, leaf cigars in a jar.  Not pretty but, let's hope, tasty.  I'll post a follow-up recipe this fall when I use them to make dolmas or dolmades.  Do you have a favorite stuffed grape leaves recipe?


  1. Why let them rot? Go for it, I'd do the same thing...

  2. That's sad too that the "manager" won't maintain the property. Could you talk to the city?

  3. Well, the new owner seems to be taking nice care of it. The previous owner didn't seem to take good care of it.

    I hate to admit that their yard looks better than ours right now.