Wondering how to preserve wild grapes or fruit from your backyard? Take a page from the Ancient Greeks and make Petimezi: a thick grape molasses recipe similar to homemade saba or balsamic vinegar reduction. It's fantastic added so sauces, drinks and desserts, especially mixed with tahini.
Reductions of fruit juice like this are common in the Middle East and the Caucuses. Goergia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and many other places have similar techniques for different fruit. Also known by the name of pekmez, it can refer to a reduction of fig or mulberry juice too. The Greeks are mostly known for making it from fresh pressed grape juice.
Ideally you should use cold-pressed grape juice. You can cook the grapes and it makes juicing them easier, but all of the seeds being cooked will activate pectin and make it more like jam. Some people like the jammy texture (see below), but it will need to be warmed to be liquid again.
How to Use Grape Molasses
- Sucuk or a braid of walnuts dipped in grape molasses is a special, traditional sweet.
- Mixing the syrup with tahini is one of the most traditional uses.
- As it contains no sugar, it can also be used like saba or balsamic vinegar reduction. I occasionally use it in meat braises like my Bison Braised in Wild Grape Juice.
- Use it anywhere you'd use pomegranite molasses or balsamic vinegar.
- Another traditional use is to reconstitute the syrup with water to make a drink as is done with apple molasses.
More Fruit Juice Reductions and Syrups
Greek Petimezi or Grape Molasses (Grape Must Syrup)
- Foodmill, preferably with set up with a medium die
- Fine Strainer
- Non-reactive sauce pot, such as stainless steel
- 6 lbs Fresh grapes
- Cut the clusters of grapes off the vine using a good scissors. You can leave the fruit on the racemes (stems) but it's slightly harder to juice.
Extract the Juice Cold
- Mash the grapes with a potato masher. Stir the mixture from bottom to top, then mash again.
- Strain the juice through cheesecloth, squeezing out the juice. The pulp that's left over can be used to make homemade vinegar. If you use wild grapes allow the juice to rest overnight so the tartaric acid settles to the bottom.
- Without disturbing the liquid too much, pour off the juice from the top and reserve, discarding the sediment at the bottom of the jar.
- Measure the juice to see how much there is so you have a benchmark for reducing by 70% in volume. You should have at least 5 cups.
- Return the juice to the cleaned pot, simmer on medium-high until reduced by 70% and the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
- Transfer the reduction to a mason jar, label, date and refrigerate. The reduction will last for a few months under refrigeration, wipe the jar's lid with vinegar occasionally to ward off mold.
- You can also process the jars in a water bath, 10 minutes for pints as for regular pickles. Use the sauce anywhere you would use pomegranate molasses.