Vine leaves or grape leaves are the leaves from the grapes used for making wine or the grapes we eat.
The best period to get the vine leaves is when they first appear, during April – May, when they are fresh and tender and before they are sprayed with pesticide.
Leaves are quite light in weight, so I buy about two kilos every year, I wash them and then I separate them into cooking portions (for my family 60 are enough) and they are enough to entertain friends too because we usually cook two or three different meals.
I wash them thoroughly and when the water has drained I take cling film, and start rolling them in the film, making sure to label them to know how many leaves there are. I then store them in the deep freezer.
This way you can preserve them for more than a year. When you need to use them you don’t have to defrost them but place them in a saucepan with water and boil them for about five minutes, to become soft and also to thaw them. When boiled they loose their vibrant green colour but that’s okay.
Another way my mother used to preserve them was to thread them with a needle and hang them to dry (dehydrate them). They should dry indoors (never exposed to sun) preferably in a storage room, if you have one. This method is quite easy but difficult to store. You must be extra careful because they become very delicate and crumble easily.The other method is to store them in glass jars in brine (with salt and water) but I have never tried this method.
In supermarkets you usually find them brined in jars or in air tight plastic bags.
We use them to make Dolmades, or Koupepia, to wrap lamb or pork or fish and many more recipes.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!
Wednesday 22nd of June 2011
This is very helpful, as we are doing a Greek cuisine cooking class in August and my grapevine leaves are still small and young. I'm going to freeze several batches today! Thanks!