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Dolma is traditionally prepared with grape leaves. Unlike similar stuffed cabbage rolls, the ingredients for which can be found at any time of the year, making dolma becomes problematic in winter and spring. While cabbage is sold in stores all year round, grape leaves can only be found in summer. To cook dolma, you need to harvest grape leaves for the winter. There are several options for harvesting grape leaves for the winter.
Features of harvesting grape leaves for the winter
To prepare foliage for the winter, you first need to decide on the timing. For dolma, young leaves are suitable, which begin to appear before the flowering of the vine. And if we take into account that the vine grows continuously throughout the entire growing season, then the collection of leaves begins in late spring and ends in autumn.
For the preparation of the dish, only the foliage of white grape varieties is used. Such leaves are juicy and tender, perfect for dolma. In red varieties, the leaves are dry and sinewy. The minced meat in them will be dry, and the leaves themselves will be tough after cooking.
Selection and preparation of grape leaves
For harvesting, grape leaves are used, which grows far from the road. Dolma leaves should be juicy and young, of a light emerald hue. They are easy to distinguish from the old ones. In addition, they must be free of damage, insect marks, stains or plaque. The leaves are chosen healthy and resilient. If the plants have recently been treated with chemicals, then you need to refrain from collecting foliage for several weeks.
Before harvesting foliage, you must first prepare it. The cut leaves are placed in a deep container and filled with cool tap water. Each sheet is then thoroughly washed and re-examined. After everything is washed, they are laid out in a thin layer in the shade and dried. It is not necessary to dry strongly, the main thing is that only the water dries up, and they are not wet.
Methods for harvesting grape greens at home
There are several ways in which you can prepare grape leaves for the winter. Each method has pros and cons. You will only be able to choose the one that is ideal for every housewife if you try all the methods of harvesting green grapes for the preparation of this Armenian dish.
The easiest way to prepare green grapes for dolma is to freeze them in the freezer. Before freezing greens in the freezer, they are washed and dried. The main thing is that the leaves are dry, otherwise the water will freeze on the leaves, and they will not be so tasty. Greens are stacked in piles of 15-20 pieces and put into a plastic bag. Then put it in the freezer.
The main disadvantage of this method is the difficulty in defrosting and using herbs for cooking. Frozen leaves are very fragile and break with any wrong movement.
Grape greens can also be pickled for the winter. First you need to prepare the marinade. For him you will need:
- 1 liter of water;
- spices (cloves, peppercorns);
- 1 tbsp. l. common salt and sugar;
- 1-2 tbsp. acetic acid.
First, the jars are sterilized. Then spices and lavrushka are placed on the bottom, grape leaves are spread. Pour boiling water over and after 3-4 minutes the water is poured into a container. Then this water is put on fire and brought to a boil. Add salt and sugar. After the salt and sugar have dissolved, add the vinegar and immediately pour the marinade over the jars. Close the jars with lids. This method will keep the leaves intact. Any spices can be used. They will add aroma to the leaves and a pleasant spicy aftertaste. This should be taken into account, because such a dish is not for everyone, and not everyone will like it.
Salting in jars
You can close the grape greens in glass jars. The process of preparing salting in jars is as follows:
- Roll the leaves into tubes (no more than 10 leaves in one tube).
- Sterilize banks.
- Boil water.
- Fold the tubes into a jar and fill with water, drain the water after 10-12 minutes.
- Then pour boiling water into the jars again.
- Drain the water again, add salt and boil.
- Pour the brine over the leaves and close the jars with a lid.
Wait for the jars to cool and put them in the refrigerator.
Preserving grape leaves for dolma for the winter using the dry method is quite simple. The leaves are folded into envelopes. You need to choose greens of the same size, then it will fold evenly into the jar. Each envelope contains no more than 10 pieces.
You don't need to use spices, salt, or even water for this recipe. Full jars are covered with lids, wrapped in a warm towel and left in a cool, dark place for a day. After 24 hours, you need to get the can. If the lid is slightly swollen, then it's okay, the leaves have not disappeared. It is necessary to redo the workpiece if the lid is swollen strongly. In such a simple way, grape leaves are prepared for the winter for making juicy Armenian dolma.
Preservation by dry salting
Another way to make harvesting of green grapes for the winter is with the help of dry salting. There are many recipes for making greens, but this one is one of the simplest. It's easier to just freeze greens in the freezer.
Grape greens are washed under running water and dried for several hours in a cool room.
It is important to ensure that the foliage is completely dry when placing the foliage in the jars. Salt jars are sterilized.
The leaves are folded in tubes or envelopes. The main thing is that they are not too thick. Then the blanks are stacked in cans in layers. When the first layer is at the bottom, it is covered with salt. Then lay out the second layer and sprinkle with salt again. This should be done until the bank is full. After that, close the blanks with a lid and put them in a cool room.
As a rule, it is most convenient to store jars of grapes for the winter in the refrigerator or cellar. After the containers with herbs have cooled, they are removed to the lower shelves of the refrigerator or lowered into the basement. The choice of this or that place is not fundamental, the main thing is that they are stored in a cool room, where bright sunlight will not fall. You need to store the blanks for no more than one year. If they stand longer, they lose all their taste, and dolma based on such greens turns out to be tasteless.
The least stored workpieces are in the freezer. Their shelf life is only six months. If they lie longer, then they are safely thrown away. They are no longer suitable for cooking. When thawed, they are watery and slimy.
Of course, even if you observe the ideal storage conditions for grape harvests, Armenian dolma on their basis is not as tasty and juicy as from fresh ones. In this case, cabbage leaves are the best option. After all, stuffed cabbage and dolma are not much different. And it is better to feast on dolma in the warm season, when grape leaves are plucked directly from the vine. Many housewives note that leaves harvested for the winter become tough and coarse, no matter how they are pickled.