Inventory, lb : 0
This item was last sold on : 05/08/16
Grape leaves are a heart shaped leaf with a similar structure to that of a maple leaf. Though each leaf will vary in color and texture, all grape leaves will have three main triangular points facing outward from the leaf's stem. Some will be smooth edged, others toothed. Grape leaves do not develop much flavor, unlike the fruit of the vine. Their culinary purpose is to serve as a vessel and textural component. Grape leaves also act as a culinary sponge. Once cooked, the leaves will absorb and reflect the flavor profiles of the ingredients they carry.
Fresh grape leaves are available mid-summer through early winter.
Grape leaves are of the plant, Vitis, a genus of over sixty species of vining plants in the flowering plant family Vitaceae. Grape leaves are harvested from grape vines, fresh, whole and young, while they are still green. They are a secondary crop and account for the smallest percentage of commercial production that grape vines are cultivated for.
Fresh grape leaves have one purpose in the kitchen. They are stuffed. What you choose to stuff them can be limitless. Complimentary matches for grape leaves can be seasonal and regional. Grape leaves can be stuffed with ground meats, rices, bulgars, minced vegetables, cheeses, nuts, dried fruits and spices. They can also be adorned with traditional sauces and those that reflect a personal infusion. Sauces made from cheeses, citrus, cream, olive oil, vinegars - each would provide a complimentary accompaniment to stuffed grape leaves. Fresh grape leaves must be blanched in hot water or a brine solution of salt and water to create an edible and flexible product. They are eaten fresh or preserved via canning methods, which must be adhered to strictly to avoid the rare case of botulism. They can also be stored in layers of parchment paper in an airtight container and kept frozen for up to six months.
One of the most historical and traditional culinary uses of the grape leaf is within the Greek mezes, dolmathes. Grape leaves are stuffed with lamb and rice, mint, fennel, parsley, dill garlic and pine nuts and served hot or cold with the lemon-based sauce, avgolemono, and finished with olive oil. Only in Greece are dolmades served with avgolemono.
The first cultivation of the grape vine began roughly 8,000 years ago in Persia. Cultivation spread throughout the region via the Phoenicians. Grape vine cultivation for food and wine would eventually become a cultural significance for Ancient Greece, North Africa, Europe and even the Americas, as there are some Vitis cultivars that are native to the New World. Today, the use of grape leaves for culinary purposes is primarily limited to Greece and the Middle East. More often, grape leaves and vines are pruned to promote further fruit production and turned into the soil or used as tinder in outdoor cooking.
Recipes that include Grape Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
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