Following traditional methods that use tannin-rich leaves in their ferments, which keep lacto-fermented foods crispy, as well as retaining their color (pickled green beans), we experimented with white oak leaves as they’re the most abundant. While they did keep the pickles good ‘n crispy, the astringent, bitter flavor was unpleasant, overpowering the normal spices and flavors we wanted to taste.
Next, we tried grape leaves.
We were pleasantly surprised with wild fox-grape leaves which didn’t disrupt the expected flavors – garlic, dill, and the pickling spice. We didn’t have to struggle through the bitter-tanning, dry-mouth taste of the white oak leaves!
Just like oak leaves, not all grape leaves are created equal, their tannin-levels varying depending on the variety. Experiment in small batches before committing your pickled cukes or green beans to one specific grape leaf.
Other tannin-rich leaf-options include raspberry and horseradish.
Scouting wild grape leaf sources….
Poison ivy and poison oak love to grow in berry and grape habitats, often becoming entangled. In our region, fox-grapes are prolific climbers, reaching as high as 30-feet, encircling utility poles as well as trees, are are often accompanied by vining poison ivy. In some instances such as this vining poison ivy it is difficult to tell whether the more-lobed leaf is poison ivy or one of the over 1,000 varieties of wild grape.
Make good use of the many internet sources available to you, as well as guide books. Here’s some good tips on wild-foraging.
We took a year to scout wild grapes, identifying them in spring (blossoms), summer (fruit) and fall (smell – exactly like grape jelly!).
Better yet? Grow your own! One small investment yields years of crispy-pickle grape leaves. You may want to plant several grape vines, as the early spring leaves – tender and juicy – are perfect for making homemade Greek Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).
|by Kathleen in Tips | Permalink|
Did you know...
Pickling is a global culinary art. If you were to go on an international food-tasting tour, you’d find pickled foods just about everywhere. You might sample kosher cucumber pickles in New York City, chutneys in India, kimchi in Korea, miso pickles in Japan, salted duck eggs in China, pickled herring in Scandinavia, corned beef in Ireland, salsas in Mexico, pickled pigs feet in the southern United States, and much, much more.
—Science of Cooking, Pickles
I have used the Pickle-It jars for a while now and they are wonderful! The fermentation is very predictable and clean, no batches go bad or wrong. Anybody who ferments food at home knows that sometimes a batch can go bad without any particular reason. The Pickle-It jars seem to eliminate that eventuality completely. Thank you for developing this wonderful product!
—Dr. Natasha Campbell, GAPS DIET