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Grape Molasses (Petimezi)

Are you familiar with the song: “Sugar is sweet/ But not as sweet as my baby/ Honey’s a treat but it/ Can’t compete with my baby”? It seems like they have never tried grape molasses! In Greece when we want to say that something/ someone is really sweet, we say they are sweet like petimezi. One great thing about our health awareness and sugar rush/ tax era is rediscovering excellent ingredients like this one. Grape molasses or petimezi, is an ancient food, popular for its nutritious qualities and delightful flavour. Before establishing the use of sugar, petimezi was very commonly used across the Mediterranean and especially Greece, not only as a sweetener but as a remedy as well.

Petimezi’s flavour is sweet with a hint of spice and its aroma is pungent, potent and so incredibly tempting. This excellent product comes from boiling grape-must in low heat for a long time. It is rather expensive since the production process is long and the yield is small. Its texture is quite similar to aged balsamic vinegar; if you are an Ottolenghi fan, then you are definitely familiar with pomegranate molasses and can use petimezi, accordingly.

This sweet viscous liquid product is rich in energy, calcium and iron. Its properties include antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and B, and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Our bodies metabolize the natural sugars in petimezi easily, too.

Brilliant pairings to this exceedingly healthy sweetener include porridge/ granola, tahini, fresh salads, cooked vegetables, fruit salads, ice cream, baking, glazing, meat and bean stews. Home cooks use it in aromatic tomato sauces; combine it with warm spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and even with dark chocolate. It is used frequently in Greek cuisine in savoury dishes—its delectable taste being used to augment sauces that accompany lamb and pork as well as fish.

The most common use of this dark-coloured syrup though is for making different kinds of sweets like moustalevria (grape-must pudding) and moustokouloura (grape-must cookies) during the autumn months. Diane Kochilas’(a wonderful Greek cuisine cookbook author) advices us on this blog post that, “if the original recipe calls for a cup of sugar and a cup of milk, water or juice, use 3/4. cup honey or petimezi and 3/4 cup of milk, water, or juice”.

So, if you’re looking of ways of reducing your daily sugar intake or looking for some healthier alternatives, we have got the sweetest inspiration!

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