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Preserved Grape Leaves

wild grape leaves

Photo by Hank Shaw

If you live in grape country — and most of us do — May through early July is the best time to pick grape leaves to use for dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, throughout the rest of the year. And just to be clear: When I say “grape country,” I am not just talking about Napa or Sonoma. You don’t need to use wine grape leaves. Concord grape leaves work fine, as do wild grape leaves — and those grow in most of the United States.

Most grape leaves, wild or domesticated, fit well into pint jars. But sometimes you get some really large leaves that are better for quart jars; I have a Mission grape in my yard that has leaves this large. Use your judgment.

This method for pickling grape leaves in an acidic brine comes from an excellent book on canning, Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling, one of the better pickling books to come out in recent years.

Once made these grape leaves will keep in the jar for about a year.

Makes 1 pint. and can be scaled up.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

  • 20 to 40 grape leaves, stems removed
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea.
  2. Get another large pot of water ready — this is what you will can the grape leaves in. Remember you will need something to keep the bottom of the pint jars up off the bottom of the pot. I use a vegetable steamer, but a bunch of canning lids (the rings, not the gaskets) works well as a platform, too. Get a large bowl of ice water ready.
  3. Boil the grape leaves for 30 to 45 seconds, then plunge into the ice water to cool. Drain them once the leaves are all cool.
  4. Take about 6 grape leaves at a time and roll them up into a cigar from the side — not the top or bottom. You will need to fold over the leaf end to fit into the pint jars. Pack the grape leaves into the jar, making sure you have about 1 inch of┬áhead space at the top.
  5. Add the citric acid to each pint jar. Bring the water you used to cook the grape leaves back to a boil and ladle it into the jars. Make sure the grape leaves are covered with the brine. Wipe the edge of the pint jar with a clean towel and seal the jar. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

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11 responses to “Preserved Grape Leaves”

  1. Inshallah | The Khouriyeh Said What?!

    [...] been working inside in the bad weather. I pickled my first grape leaves and canned them, using this recipe. Three pints and it took several hours altogether. They were free leaves, but I have to wonder [...]

  2. Jane

    I tried this recipe today, altogether including picking time, I believe it took me 1.5hours for 3 pints. Now if they taste good, I will definitely use this recipe again!

  3. Margareta Spain

    What a great recipe! I have such a lot of wild grapes along in my yard. What a good idea about the lids in the bottom of the pot.

  4. Jenn

    I made these tonight – also 3 pints – and they took less than an hour, including picking and cleaning the leaves. Looking forward to using some and taking the rest to a barter event.

  5. Kathy Constantine

    I would like to know where I can find pickled grape leaves in a grocery store. Which grocery store would carry them?

  6. Juana

    Hi, In western Canada it can often be found in grocery stores like Superstore and Save-On.

  7. Sherrie

    How much lemon juice per pint, please? I know spring leaves would have been more tender but curious to try this.

  8. Sherrie

    Thanks, I wasn’t clear on that. Appreciate the quick response.

  9. Diane

    Thank you for yet another great recipe. I am out in the country in Northern CA and we have so many beautiful grape leaves on four big vines. This recipe was simple, and I ended up making a quart and two pints of them! I wish I had picked more! They are almost done in the water bath as I am writing this. I can’t wait to prepare them with some of our grass fed lamb!! Wondering if I could use some ground venison for dolmas as well?

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