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What Is Petimezi?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 16, 2024
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Petimezi is a Greek-style molasses syrup that is made from boiled-down grapes. Greek natives, both ancient and modern, have used it to sweeten things such as beverages, pastries and puddings. It contains all the nutrients and healthful characteristics as grapes, making it a diet-friendly alternative to jams, jellies and sugary syrups.

Like honey and its other syrupy counterparts, petimezi can be flavored with other fruits and spices. Apples, pears and quince are just a few of the fruits that quickly meld flavors with petimezi. The resulting flavored syrup can be eaten over ice cream or yogurt. Greek cooks often use plain or fruit-infused petimezi to flavor traditional Greek grape-must — or crushed grape — cookies. The result is a dark-colored, crunchy cookie that has a very sweet, fruity flavor.

Petimezi can complement more than just sweet desserts and breakfast foods. It also can complement rich meats, such as turkey and wild game, either as a marinade or as an ingredient in gravy or dressing. Unlike its sweeter counterparts, petimezi has a slightly bitter undertone that complements savory foods. Adventurous cooks could experiment with simmering their favorite Mediterranean fruits in petemezi before pouring it over the meat. This sweet and savory combination is popular among Greek cooks.

Home cooks who want to try making petimezi require at least 10 pounds (about 4.5 kg) of grapes to produce about 1 cup (240 mL) of sweet syrup. The cook must grind the grapes through a food mill situated over a cheesecloth-covered mixing bowl. The food mill extracts the most juice possible, and the cheesecloth keeps stems, skins and seeds out of the juice. Bundling and squeezing the cheesecloth after crushing the grapes extracts the last bits of juice, yielding about 0.5 gallons (about 2 liters) total.

The cook should pour the grape juice into a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. After reducing the stove to medium-high heat, the cook should let the juice simmer for about an hour, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from scorching. The juice should thicken and begin to resemble thick, red honey.

The petimezi should be allowed to cool for about an hour, then transferred to clean jars. This boiled syrup has an indefinite shelf life, so cooks can make large batches of it and store it in a refrigerator for as long as they like. It can become an unusual topping for pancakes or a staple for baking various confections.

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