Grape molasses spread

April 14, 2015  •  Category: ,

grape molasses


I am sorry.  I cannot tell you to go out and get this from your health food store or Arabic store. It is an ancient food, made with grape juice, boiled to death and then whipped (called debs el-3enab madroob). Even in Beirut, most of the people I ask have never tasted it. It is a typical village or rural food,  produced by the older generations. My mom’s friend made it yearly well into her early eighties, in her tiny kitchen. I will make it myself one day, once I hit my seventies. Just kidding.

Actually grape molasses was produced throughout the Mediterranean basin, in France (it was called raisiné, in Portugal, in Italy, in Turkey, and it was the precursor to cane sugar.

In the Lebanese mountains, and in particular in the Chouf Mountains, the village press will make it for a fee, once you supply the grapes, of course. They will crush the grapes, strain them, boil the juice at a high temperature, and finally whip the juice till it takes on a clear blonde color and thickens. The town of Rashaya al-wadi in the West Bekaa region is famous for its grape molasses.

It is sweet as can be, with a hint of tanginess. Creamy and perfect as a spread over bread and (why not) with sliced bananas, a la Elvis.

It is composed of grape juice. No sugar added, no nothing added.

What is available however at the Middle-Eastern stores, some supermarkets, health food chains and online, is the commercial variety of grape molasses. The texture is thinner, but it does get thicker once the jar has been opened for a while. The color is darker and the taste is a tad acrid,  like other types of molasses.


4 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve used the commercial variety of grape molasses for baking but this looks beautifully lush and healthy.

    • Joumana says:

      @Elizabeth: I am glad to hear this, I use grape molasses in baking and even with savory dishes (like ribs and so on); but yes, this one, made with a Druze Sheikh in the mountains, is the best. Too bad it is not (yet) available to the larger public.

  2. Alicia (foodycat) says:

    That sounds lovely! Good on you for trying to keep the tradition and knowledge alive!

  3. sue|theviewfromgreatisland says:

    I just bought grape molasses for the first time — I adore pomegranate molasses so I just had to try it! I’m so glad to know how to make it from scratch!

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