Posts tagged: public domain

Enjoying Wild Foods: Purslane

By , August 23, 2009
Purslane Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Garden Salad with Purslane, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers

Once you discover the world of edible wild plants, you realize that there’s food everywhere! Even in the asphalt jungle of an urban environment.

Purslane is a very common weed that I often see growing in sidewalk crevices or in barren, disturbed soil. It’s extremely nutritious, so I was happy to find it growing near our apartment recently.

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Make Your Own Pickled Grape Leaves

By , August 1, 2009

Ingredients for making pickled, lacto-fermented grape leaves

Have you ever eaten Dolmas (or “Dolmades”)? I absolutely love them! Dolmas are a delicious Turkish finger food made by stuffing pickled grape leaves with a filling made from rice, onion, parsley, olive oil, spices, and various other things. Sometimes they’re also made with meat.

A couple years ago, I created my own recipe for Dolmas that doesn’t use rice, but rather shredded zucchini, as the main filling. I ought to make that recipe more often, since it’s one of my favorite things to eat! I’ll post my recipe for Zucchini Dolmas soon (UPDATE: here’s the recipe), but today I’m going to show you how to make your own pickled grape leaves — which you’ll need for the Dolmas. (You can also just buy pickled grape leaves in a jar, which is what I used to do, until I recently discovered how much cheaper and more fun it is to make my own!)

Grape leaves are plentiful and ubiquitous, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding them. If you don’t have your own grape vine, just take a walk down any random alley, and you’ll probably find at least one vine spilling out over someone’s fence. (You could ask first before picking of course, but if the vine is trailing into the alley — or hanging over a public sidewalk — it’s in the public domain.) The grape leaves I collected were from a vine in my alley. Choose leaves that are young enough to be tender, but large enough to stuff with filling, and clip the stem close to the leaf.

The grape leaves we’ll be making are pickled by way of lacto-fermentation, rather than vinegar. Lacto-fermentation is a traditional way of preserving fruits & vegetables by harnessing the power of lactobacilli bacteria, which are present on the surface of all living things. The bacteria convert plant starches & sugars into lactic acid, which is the preservative. The lactobacilli themselves also improve the vegetable’s digestibility, as well as boost its vitamin and enzyme levels.

Pickled Grape Leaves

24 grape leaves

1 Tbsp sea salt

4 Tbsp whey* (if you don’t have whey, use an additional 1 Tbsp salt)

2 cups water, filtered if you have it

Wash the leaves well, and stack them neatly together.

Put water, salt, and whey in a big bowl and stir. Soak the leaves in the liquid for about an hour, weighting them down with a plate.

Soak the leaves for about an hour, weighted down with a plate.

Soak the leaves for about an hour, weighted down with a plate.

Roll up the leaves and stuff them into a pint jar. Pour in enough liquid to cover the leaves, but leave 1 inch of space between the liquid and the top of the jar. Cover tightly, and leave on the counter for about 3 days. Then, transfer to the fridge, where they’ll keep for quite a while. I had mine in the fridge for about 10 days before using them.

* Whey is the clear, yellowish liquid strained off when making yogurt or cheese. Don’t use powdered or commercial concentrated whey!

Pickled grape leaves

Recipe courtesy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

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