Dolmades can be served as part of a meze platter (appetizer) or salad plate, eaten as finger food or simply enjoyed as a tasty snack. Too often they come from a can and are not fresh. Homemade are far superior to the canned. If you have never tried fresh Dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!
Grape leaves are best picked from grape vines in the Spring, while they are still tender. Select young whole, medium leaves. Be sure and pick them before the first spray as some sprays are toxic. Pick approximately 1 1/2 pounds of fresh leaves which are the same as one jar of preserved leaves. Using scissors, cut off the stems and either soak in very hot water for 5-10 minutes to soften or blanch grape leaves until they are soft (the time will depend on the leaves - younger ones will only take a minute). They can be washed and frozen between layers of waxed paper or plastic wrap and will keep for a year. To prepare Dlmades from bottled grape leaves, rinse well under cold water to remove the brine. Don't throw away any torn or damaged leaves, as they can be used to patch holes in other leaves. Follow the recipe and method below.
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