Which Variety of Grape Vine Has Edible Leaves for Making Dolmades? (2024)

Which Variety of Grape Vine Has Edible Leaves for Making Dolmades? (1)

Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are a popular dish in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. These appetisers are made of meat, rice, various herbs and spices, all of which are wrapped in grape vine leaves and cooked.

When cooking, it’s important to use the correct ingredients, which is why many people ask, which grape varieties are best for making dolmades?

The Sultana grape, also known as the Thompson seedless, is best grape variety with edible leaves used in making dolmades.

How do I know? i asked my ethnic mum, she grew up on a farm, and has been making this dish her entire life, so I’d say that’s a reliable source!

Why are Sultana (Thompson Seedless) Leaves Preferred?

There are several reasons why Sultana (Thompson seedless) leaves are used for their edible leaves in preference to other grape varieties:

  • Large, broad leaves with very shallow lobes provides ample wrapping material without any holes or gaps where ingredients could fall out, unlike the more deeply lobed (deeply cut) grape leaves of most wine grape varieties.
  • Stronger and more flexible leaves than other grape varieties make them perfect for use in cooking, as they’re easier to wrap and won’t come apart.
  • Leaves have a good texture and taste when cooked and are easy to chew.

Other varieties with broad leaves may also be used if they’re palatable and lend themselves to cooking. I should point out that the Vitus vinifera species (European grape varieties) are used for edible leaves.

Are Labrusca Grape (Fox Grape) Leaves Edible?

The Northern Fox Grape, also known as a Concorde Grape or Labrusca grape, is the species Vitis labrusca, native to the US. With its distinct musky flavour which many find objectionable, and large seeds which cling to the pulp of the berries, it’s an inferior grape compared to the European Vitus vinifera species, and its leaves are also are not suitable for cooking this dish.

Only the young leaves of Vitis labrusca are considered edible, and are said to have a ‘pleasant acid flavour’ when cooked and used as greens or wrapped around other foods and then baked where they impart a pleasant flavour. You really don’t want the flavour of the leaves seeping into to the ingredients in dolmades, in case you’re wondering…

The leaves are actually used historically as a herbal medicine, where an infusion of the leaves has been used in treating diarrhoea, fevers, headaches, hepatitis, stomach aches and thrush, while a poultice has been used externally on rheumatic joints, sore breasts, and as a headache treatment.

In other words, just use the European Vitus vinifera species for dolmades!

Harvesting the Best Grape Vine Leaves for Use in Cooking

As with any other fresh cooking ingredients, knowing what to harvest and when will determine the quality of the ingredients!

The best time to pick vine leaves is in late spring to early summer when the leaves are nice and tender, unblemished and in great abundance. Any leaves that aren’t used immediately can be stored for later use.​

You don’t want to harvest the very delicate young leaves which can tear easily or the oldest, toughest ones, but the medium sized leaves in-between.

The traditional method my mum taught me was to start at the tip of a branch, leaving the first three leaves, and then selecting the fourth and later leaves for harvest. Select a few leaves from each branch to avoid stripping any one branch of leaves. Cut off the leaves near the branch, you want the leaf stem to stay attached to the leaves, this prevents leaves tearing and the leaf stem can be cut off later during the cooking preparation process.

Choose healthy looking leaves that are as large as the palm of your hand or larger, without any holes in them or any other damage. Make sure that the leaves haven’t been sprayed with any pesticides or fungicides, if it’s not your grape vine, ask the grower!

If leaves are going to be used immediately for cooking, rinse the leaves with cool water to wash them, then pat them dry before use.

Storing Grape Vine Leaves

Since the harvesting period is limited, it’s best to collect the grape vine leaves you need during the few months that they’re available, and storing what is not used.

If leaves are to be stored, they are not washed but instead wiped down with a dry paper towel, stacked, then placed in a sealed freezer bag, and put he freezer where they will keep for 6 months.

More Than Vine Leaves!

In permaculture, which is essentially ecological garden design, we prefer to use plants which have multiple uses to maximise efficiency

More than just a source of edible leaves for making dolmades, the Thompson seedless (sultana) grape is one of the most popular sweet table grapes worldwide, and it is also used for making dried raisins and wine also.

The berries are yellow-green in colour, oval in shape, small to medium in size, and seedless, with soft skin and sweet, firm, juicy pulp with nice grape flavour. The berries are produced in large, conical bunches which are usually well filled. This vine is vigorous, and a cane-pruned variety. It’s definitely worth growing!


Which Variety of Grape Vine Has Edible Leaves for Making Dolmades? (2024)


Which Variety of Grape Vine Has Edible Leaves for Making Dolmades? ›

The Sultana

The sultana is a "white" (pale green), oval seedless grape variety also called the sultanina, Thompson Seedless (United States), Lady de Coverly (England), and oval-fruited Kishmish (Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India).
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Sultana_(grape)
grape, also known as the Thompson seedless, is best grape variety with edible leaves used in making dolmades.

What grape vine leaves are used for dolmades? ›

If you're lucky enough to find fresh grape vine leaves, by all means, you should use them to make these dolmas. To use them in this recipe, first be sure to wash them well, then blanch them in boiling hot water. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to fully cool and drain.

What type of grape leaves are edible? ›

Wild edible grape leaves have three distinct lobes with pointy notches all the way around the leaf. The vine itself is reddish and the leaves are bright green. Generally edible grape leaves are on wild vines. Cultivated vines for grapes are not used for their leaves, because they are not tender or as flavorful.

Are fox grape leaves edible? ›

The fruit and leaves are edible. The fruit can be eaten raw or dried for later use. The leaves, which have a pleasant flavor, are used as a wrap, surrounding other foods that are then baked.

Can I use my own grape leaves for dolmas? ›

Whenever possible, use fresh grape leaves, which taste, as you might guess, more fresh and vibrant. Choose young tender, blemish-free leaves throughout the spring and early summer and store them flat, layered with paper towels, in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

What is the best grape leaf for dolma? ›

When cooking, it's important to use the correct ingredients, which is why many people ask, which grape varieties are best for making dolmades? The Sultana grape, also known as the Thompson seedless, is best grape variety with edible leaves used in making dolmades.

Are all grape vines edible? ›

While there are many species of wild grape, all look much the same but, unfortunately, so do many other native vines. Some of these “copy-cat” vines are edible but unpalatable, while others are poisonous, so identifying wild grapes correctly before ingesting them is of paramount importance.

Which leaves are edible? ›

Some of the leaves we consume as vegetables include spinach, lettuce, and cabbage. The majority of leaf vegetables are produced by annual herbaceous plants. Healthy diets should contain leafy green veggies. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

What trees have edible leaves? ›

A disproportionate number of the world's most nutritious vegetables are actually trees with edible leaves. These outstanding species include chaya, Siberian ginseng, cassava, noni, moringa, mulberry, and Chinese toon.

Where do stuffed grape leaves come from? ›

Records show that Dolma was first prepared in the city of Thebes, an ancient town on the Nile River. The natives of Thebes stuffed seasonal meat and vegetables into vine leaves to make a dolma-like dish. Around 335 BC, Alexander the Great and his soldiers conquered the city of Thebes.

Are Vitis leaves edible? ›

Not only have the grapes been used for human consumption, but the leaves are also used as a source of bioactive compounds and are present in the diets of several Mediterranean countries.

Are grape leaves safe? ›

Grape leaves are very nutritious and according to the USDA, they are a great source of minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. In addition, they are also high in fiber, folate and vitamins A and K. Grape leaves contain many phytochemicals and antioxidants that may contribute to overall positive health.

Can I eat grape leaves from my garden? ›

The morning is the best time for picking grape leaves to eat. Make sure the vine you harvest from has not been sprayed. Choose the medium-sized leaves which are big enough to use as wraps but not too tough. Avoid leaves with tears or holes if using them as wrappers.

What is a substitute for grape leaves in dolmas? ›

Young leaves from grape vines are the preferred leaf to use for dolma. Grape leaves can be found in many markets in jars near the pickled products. If you can't find brined grape leaves, collard greens or Swiss chard are good substitutes.

Are concord grape leaves edible? ›

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.

What is the difference between dolmas and dolmades? ›

A Greek dish with history

Dolmades (the plural of dolmas) somehow became a synonym for corruption. It became demeaning to call someone “dolmas”, a nickname which is used till this very day, even though nowadays it is fun and does not carry a bad connotation. During the Age of Enlightenment, dolmades were very popular.

What are stuffed grape leaves made of? ›

Although recipes vary, most involve a roll of tangy grape leaves filled with a savory combination of rice and herbs. The result: a unique, flavorful treat rich in vitamins and antioxidants and low in calories, salt, and fat.

Are dolmades the same as grape leaves? ›

Dolmadakia (little Dolmades) are delicate little parcels made from grape (vine leaves). The name comes from the Turkish word “Dolma” or “stuffed”. They are usually stuffed with rice and other various fillings as a vegetarian option or more commonly served with rice, ground meat and herbs.

Are grape leaves the same as vine leaves? ›

Grape leaves, the leaves of the grapevine plant, are used in the cuisines of a number of cultures.

Can you cook with muscadine grape leaves? ›

Pickling muscadine leaves

The young grape leaves can be preserved for making a tasty Mediterranean dish called Greek Dolmades or Stuffed Grape Leaves, which is a perfect Spring meal when presented with a glass of muscadine wine from last Summer.

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