Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Preserving Grape Leaves

Some time ago, on one of those sleepless nights, I had the TV turned on to the Create Channel and someone was preparing fish, red snapper, and had them packaged ever so neatly in preserved grape leaves.  I can handle the whole fish with the innards removed by the helpful folks at the fish market in Mayport.  But how do you preserve grape leaves?

An interesting hunter, angler, gardener, and cook named Hank Shaw had the answer on his WWW page that you absolutely must check out.  Hank also has a Duck, Duck, Goose Cookbook tour coming up and maybe you'll be able to talk to him in person.  Hank, you are leaving my Muscovy ducks alone, aren't you?
Grape Leaves

Back to the grape leaves.  When my husband saw the leaves spread out on the table, he wanted to know if they were his Muscadine leaves.  He is so protective of those sprigs!

I picked a large handful, about 25 leaves, from the wild grapes that grow in abundance along the wooded area on the Back Forty.  It is a little late in the season but I selected the best leaves that I could find.

I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil, dropped in the leaves, and let them gently boil for a couple of minutes.  After that, I emptied the leaves in a colander while running cool water over them and when they were cool enough to handle, I rolled them up into slender cigars and packed them into a clean jar.  I only got four cigars rolling up six leaves in each and had plenty of room in the jar for more.

Since it is not a large amount of leaves that I am preserving, I also boiled only a cup of water with 1/4 cup of lemon juice added (per Hank).  I let it boil for about two minutes and then poured it into the packed jar with the grape leaves.

I am storing the preserved grape leaves in the refrigerator because I intend to use them within a short time.  Otherwise, it is strongly recommended to process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath for sealing and sterilization.  (See Internet for boiling water bath canning.)

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