Making Do in Appalachia: Roll your own Grape Leaves

Grape Leaves

Roll your Own Grape Leaves

Did you know you can make dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)  at home?

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Did you know where one can procure grape leaves for the dolmas?

From the grocery store-in expensive little jars.

Commercial Grape Leaves


You can just forage your own. These grape leaves are the same ones that you can buy in the stores.

grape leaves

How to Harvest Grape Leaves

grape leaves

Late spring or early summer is the best time. You want the leaves harvested before they get tough or develop holes or funny little bumps. Bumps on Grape Leaves


Supplies needed: a pair of scissors and a storage container-aka a plastic bag. You want to cut the leaf carefully, to get all of the stem off, 

Wrong way to cut grape leaf
Don’t leave the stem on the grape leaf

so you don’t have to do any trimming in the preservation stop. You want to be very picky while picking! Choose the largest, non-holey, no bug grape leaves out there.

Cut cleanly at the picking stage
Cut cleanly at the picking stage



Cleaning Grape Leaves

We do a two step rinse of the grape leaves. These containers are food grade containers. You can purchase these at a restaurant supply store. We actually have one of these!-about 35 miles away.


Start of Grape Leaf Rollup

After the rinse, place the leaf down on your surface. Continue to line the leaves up.

Start of Grape Leaf Rollup

Then roll up the leaves!

Roll up the Grape Leaf

Place your rolls vertically in your mason jar.

Grape Leaves in Jar



Jar of Grape Leaves

We are not very scientific about our brine. In fact, no science is involved. In the past, Dennis has just dropped salt into the jar and filled it up with water. This year, he did make brine.

What is Brine?

Brine is water saturated or strongly impregnated with salt. In other words, “salt water”.  There are actual recipes for brine if you care to search. Dennis added hot water to a 2 quart container, then added salt until it looked “briny”.


Don’t use fancy salt. Use the cheap iodized salt in the round box.

Finished Product

Dennis stirred the brine well, and then added the brine to the grape leaves and affixed the lids to the jars. Voila! No hot water bath, nothing. Put them on the shelf and make some great stuffed grape leaves from the convenience of your own home!

Do you have a special recipe for dolmas? We’ll discuss making stuffed grape leaves in our next post!

stuffed grape leaves

One thought on “Making Do in Appalachia: Roll your own Grape Leaves

  1. Take a hike on a trail in your area. Can you find wild muscadines growing ( Figure 9 )? What kind of environment are they living in? Can you find flowers or fruit? Where else can you find muscadine grapes growing in your area? Make a map of their locations and visit them at different times of the year to see how the grapevines change.

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