What's Grape Molasses? It's Grape Must (aka grape juice) reduced by simmering until it becomes syrupy. It's a natural sweetener that has been used a lot in Ancient times (before sugar was discovered). Grape Molasses can be used in various recipes from making cookies like the Greek Moustokouloura Cookies to sweet pies and cakes.
Ancient Greeks used it a lot, in all of its forms from its light syrupy form to thickened Grape Molasses that's called Petimezi (which was also used as a cough syrup).
The 3 different stages
- Grape Must: Raw grape juice is made by pressing the grapes with a kind of weight in order to release their juice. The juice is then passed through a strainer. At this point, Grape Must can either be used to make wine (wild yeasts will eat the sugar and turn it into alcohol) or cooked in order to stop the fermentation process and produce either Grape Molasses or Petimezi. See here how to make Grape Must.
- Grape Molasses: Grape Must simmers for quite some time until it thickens like a syrup (reduced to ¼ ).
- Petimezi: Thick like honey, it's made by simmering grape must until it gets reduced down to ⅕.
What Type Of Grape Shall I Use?
Any type. It doesn't matter if they're red or white. However, sometimes red grapes are preferred when making Molasses. Because when used in desserts like cookies it gives a darker, more appetizing color. Other than that the results are pretty much the same. A very very sweet liquid.
Only 1 Ingredient
Grapes are the only ingredient you need to make Grape Molasses. Old-fashioned recipes would instruct to add ash from burned woods when making Grape Must. This way all dirt separates from the Must yielding a more refined and clearer liquid.
This isn't really necessary to make Molasses. As we're passing the stage of Grape Must and we reduce it down to a thick syrup having a translucent liquid isn't important.
To clear the must from dirt you simply pass it through a muslin cloth before you cook it. Then once it starts boiling skim off everything from the surface and that's about it!
And although you don't need any other ingredient other than the grape juice itself, you can add some nice flavors to it. Like cinnamon or cloves. Some like to add a few drops of lemon juice for an extra tanginess but that's up for you to decide.
Traditionally in Greece, Lemon Geranium leaves are added for flavoring a few minutes before removing from heat. This plant gives the distinctive flavor to grape must when it's used to make traditional Greek recipes like Moustalevria.
Why Can't I Use A Blender To Juice The Grapes?
Grape Must needs to be clean from skins and seeds and a blender will just blend it all in.
How To Make Grape Molasses
What you will need:
- 2 large cooking pots
- a strainer
- a weight of either wood or steel or simply use your hands
- a muslin cloth
- 5 kilos /11 pounds of grapes
- Make a batch of Grape Must.
- Add flavorings (optional) and bring to a low simmer.
- Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour or more until it gets syrupy.
- Remove flavorings.
- You can make the Grape Molasses as thick as honey if you prefer.
- Store the Grape Molasses in sterilized glass jars at room temperature for up to a year or in the fridge.
How To Make Grape Molasses
- 2.5 liters Grape Must see how to make it here
- Add the Grape Must to a large cooking pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer over medium-low heat until it gets reduced to ¼. Then store it in sterilized glass jars or bottles for up to a year. To make a thick Petimezi keep simmering until the liquid gets thick as honey and reduced down to ⅕ of the original volume of the Must (see Note 1 below).