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Aug 23, 2007 05:54 AM

Let's say I have grapevines and want to use the leaves...

... for dolmathes. The grapes are starting to ripen, so the plants are concentrating their energies into the fruit, and the leaves are starting to wither a bit.

What do I do to the leaves in order to use them for dolmathes?

Any tips on what to stuff them with also welcome.


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  1. Blanch and put in ice water if the leaves are a bit old and tough. Just remove the tough center veins for more tender leaves. I stuff with a ground lamb if available (beef-pork mixture if not), chopped cilantro, garlic, s & p, chopped mint, with or without leftover cooked rice,...and other stuff that make my version more Asian than Greek.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      I wonder if they would be good in dishes that traditional use Chaya?

      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        That's funny...I'm sure they would be!

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Cheesmonger... based on your interests in Chile Rellenos... I am positive you will dig some of the Yucatecan dishes that feature Chaya... with Grape leaves as a substitute.

          Grape Leaf Tamales
          Papadzules (Room temperture "Enchiladas" stuffed with hardboiled eggs & chaya leaves bathed in a Pumpkin Seed-Epazote sauce... surrounded by a Tomato sauce)
          Grape Leaf Crapes
          Grape Leaf Quiche
          Grape Leaf Agua Fresca

          Let me know if you want some recipes.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            recipe schmecipe! Ideas work for me! I love pepitas, and love to incorporate them whenever possible. When I find good ones, I'm known to snack on them endlessly (after spicing them up, of course). The idea of a south american/mexican/central american prep is intriguiging...

            Sam- the beauty of having a vineyard, albeit small, to choose from is that there are many many degrees of toughness and different varieties have different shapes and toughness, so I have plenty of opportunity to find that perfect leaf (or leaves). Also, Asian ideas are always welcome- I wouldn't have thought of that, and since my trip to the koren market today, I'm rife with sauces/ingredients. I had turned my mind to Greek only... great ideas Sam and Eat_Nopal!

            1. re: cheesemonger

              Well, my more Greek version: saute finely chopped onion and green onions, add allspice, cinnamon, and soaked rice. Saute further until rice is opaque. Add cilantro and/or mint, chopped raisins, and water. Cook until rice is half cooked. Add toasted pine nuts. Season. Cool. Mix with meat. Roll up the dolmas, tightly pack seam side down, and steam (or simmer as is more traditional). Top w/ lemon juice.

              We had a a grape vine in the yard growing up. We used it for the leaves, not so much for the grapes.

    2. Being of Middle Eastern descent, we always pick the leaves for making stuffed grape leaves WAY before the grapes are ripe. In the Central Valley of California we usually pick around May before they put sulfur on the vines. My Mom taught me to pick the tender leaves which generally are about the 3-4th from the end of the cane, about medium hand size. We blanch the leaves then can them in a salt water brine with a slice of lemon on top.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bakersfield Hound

        The bakersfield hound is right on the money,, I use to see a bunch of armenian ladies
        out picking the leaves, when they are nice and tender and shiny. I have never eaten
        any but I always wanted too. I know you can buy them in the stores, in cans. and the
        type of grapevines they would pick were the thompson raisin grape.

        1. re: Bakersfield Hound

          BH, being of Fresno descent, we did the same.

          1. re: Bakersfield Hound

            Agreed. I've tried with older leaves and they are irretrievably TOUGH. Next year.....

          2. you can do an excellen sweet dolamde, too..

            blanch the leaves in boiling sugar syrup, make a mix of rice cooked in milk and cinnamon, sultanas, orange zest and honey.

            Roll 'em up like you would any dolmade and refrigerate until cool.

            You can even reduce the sugar syrup, add a little rose water and then pour it over the dolmades as a glaze.


            1. i agree with the previous poster about when to lebanese mom never picks the wild grapeleaves she uses after june..they're just too tough...also, she does not blanch the leaves; instead, after washing, she stacks them up and freezes them...this breaks down the tough cellulose(?), makes them pliable, and tender.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sixelagogo

                Wow- thanks everyone for the great tips.

                I wanted to use them next weekend, so I had assumed that I would leave the leaves on the vine until almost that time. The vines haven't been sulphured for a long time now- but there are other chemicals that have been applied... I wish I had thought about this earlier, but alas.

                The freezing tip is good also. The plants are still leafing out, but to a lesser extent, and they need a little pruning back, so I may be able to claim some nice leaves from those shoots, even though, at this time of year, they are pretty pale compared to the early season leaves.

                Again- thanks all for the information. If it's too late this year, there's always next spring!

              2. My dad makes a great crock pickle with layers of grape leaves. It gives the pickles an effervesent quality. It actually works the best with those end of the season huge pickles