Harvested for culinary use, the large, tender, green
leaves of the grapevine
are especially popular in Greece and the Middle
East, where they are stuffed with mixtures of rice and meat and
rolled into cigar-shaped dolmades
. The leaves are also sometimes
used to protect and flavor small French cheeses, or to cover small game
birds when using high-heat cooking methods like grilling
Varieties and Buying Tips
Grape leaves are not usually commercially available fresh, but Greek
and Middle Eastern markets will carry bottled or canned leaves packed
If you have a grapevine growing in your backyard, you can use your own
leaves so long as they are unsprayed. The best time to harvest them is
early to mid-summer.
Refrigerate grape leaves in their brine, in a nonmetal, airtight container. They will keep indefinitely.
• Brine-packed leaves should be rinsed before using to remove some of the salty flavor.
• Use extra care when removing leaves from bottles or jars—they tear easily.
• Fresh leaves should be steamed
until softened and pliable.
• When stuffing, don't roll too tightly. Give your stuffing ingredients some room to cook and swell up.
• Stuffed grape leaves make a great party appetizer
because they can be prepared up to one week ahead.
• Stuffed grape leaves may be served hot, at room temperature or cold. Top with a dollop of yogurt
• Enhance the flavor of mushrooms
by cooking them in a pot lined with grape leaves.
• When pickling cucumbers
, add grape leaves to your brine to make your pickles crisp.
• Use grape leaves in salads
or as decorations or garnishes.
Try one of our favorite grape leaf recipes:
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Vegetarian)
Grilled Goat Cheese in Fresh Grape Leaves