Because that's when you open a jar of pickled leaves, roll them up with a delectable filling, cook them, and then serve them cold as appetisers or a meal. At that point they're called dolmathes, or stuffed grape leaves.
I put 24-30 leaves into a 250 ml (8 oz) canning jar. Any jar will do though, as long as it has a tight seal. Pick however many leaves you'll use at one time for a recipe.
The grape leaves
So first pick your leaves. It's easiest to snip them off. Try to pick alternate ones, so you don't leave your poor plant naked!
Always check no sprays were used on the leaves, but give them a wash anyway. Then cut off the stems close to the leaves, but not cutting into the leaf.
Boil some water in a pot. Switch off and add the prepared leaves, then leave them in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the leaves, drain them and let the pile of them cool. Now you use that water to make a brine.
Relax, it's just sea salt ( pickling salt) and water. You just dissolve a good amount of the salt in your water, a fairly concentrated amount. I know when it's right by floating an uncooked egg in it, and you'll see an area about 3/4 of an inch out of the water. It's really the only way to determine the strength of your brine!
Roll the leaves
Place a leaf, shiny side down, on your counter. Roll like a little cigar, tucking in the pointy end, and the sides. Repeat until all are rolled. This is a fabulous job for children, if you have any around. You can do lots of leaves.
Take your clean jar, hold it at a slant and pack those little cigars tightly into it. Then fill right up to the top with brine. If you've packed your leaves tightly there shouldn't be need to weight them down under the brine. Seal your jars by firmly closing them with the lids.
It sounds complicated, but it is really easy, and way nicer than using the bought ones. The brine does its job of preserving the leaves until you want to use them. Just remember when you take them out of the jar you need to rinse them to get rid of the salt.
If you want to use your leaves freshly picked you can do that too! Just blanch them first.
Here's a great recipes for vegetarian dolmathes!
You can serve these hot if you want, but they make lovely cold appetisers that people adore! Serve them with some sour cream. Yum!