One of the plants that I had in the old garden, which didn’t make it into the new garden, was a grape vine. A grape vine (or two) has been on my wish list – I want them to grow over the arbour. I had other plans for the arbour this summer, with climbing cucurbits the order of the day, but sadly those plans didn’t come to fruition.
So when I discovered that Victorian Nursery Gardens are offering a 25% discount on grape vines until 7th August, it felt like the right time to take the plunge. Now my particular interest at the moment is in vine leaves, and in a 2014 article on grape vines in the Guardian, Stephen Shirley from Victoriana offered up some variety advice:
Having looked at the Victoriana website, Pinot Blanc is a wine grape whilst Pinot Noir is a dual-purpose eating/wine grape, so I chose the latter. To clamber over the other side of the arbour, and give us a different sort of grape, I have chosen Lakemont, a seedless white grape with a sweet flavour almost like honey.
Way back in 2014 (well, it feels like a long time ago!) I published some advice on growing grape vines in small gardens and making the most out of them, as part of my Glutbusters series. So now we’ve bought the grape vine, and planted it out, what are we doing with it, beyond eating the grapes or making wine?
Rose Water & Orange Blossoms explains how to identify, clean, and store fresh grape leaves, whilst WNYC shares secrets For Perfect Stuffed Grape Leaves. The Herbangardener shows us how to make your own pickled grape leaves.
Moving on from grape leaves, you can learn about Grape must, aka petimezei, an ancient healthy sweetener from Diane Kochilas, and how to make verjuice with Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Verjuice, or verjus is a souring agent that was commonly used in various cultures before globalization meant you could get lemons anywhere.
So we’ve eaten the fruit, and the leaves, and used the juice – sweet and sour. But hang on, there’s more! Could there be a plant more versatile than the grape vine? Perhaps not. Modern Farmer have been pondering the next amazing health food: the seeds of wine grapes, so perhaps we ought to stop spitting them out. And Scientific American have been looking into the nutritional potential of grape pomace flour. Pomace (the seeds, skins, and pulp leftover from winemaking)…
So we can take a Whole Vine approach to grape vines!
— Nic Wilson (@nicmama) July 29, 2016
If you’re feeling sad now that you don’t have a grape vine of your own, and you’re not currently in a position to add one to your garden, then don’t despair! You may be able to forage for some, depending on where you live in the world. Although in the US it doesn’t sound particularly easy to identify the different species – as Eat the Weeds discovers in Grapes of Path. And there are plenty of other species with leaves you can stuff! But we will have to explore those another day. Enjoy your weekend!