Contributing writer: Petra Chedid
Grape molasses is an ancient food in the Mediterranean region, known before honey or refined sugar. It is a natural sweetener with no additives or colorants. Grape molasses is a common food in the Lebanese mountains and is stocked in winter.
The Rachaya El-Wadi village is recognized for its grape molasses production. Situated on the western slopes of Mount Hermon, it has cold winters and moderate summers, which make good weather for growing grapes.
Rachaya crops include grapes, olives, cherries and apricots. It also has two olive oil presses and three grape molasses factories. The Food Heritage Foundation visited the grape molasses factory “Grapeful” to learn how this syrup is made.
Rachaya, the Kadamani’s hometown was the cradle of this ancient tradition. The Kadamani family established the first specialized press for producing grape molasses in the early twentieth century. The third generation of Kamadani established a modern grape press in the year 2000, using modern techniques and complying with international standards.
What type of grapes to use?
All types of grapes can be used (red or white); the level of sugar in the grapes must reach 80 on the refractometer; the more sugar that the grapes contain, the sweeter the molasses will be.
- On average, each 5.5 kilos of grapes yields 1 kg of grape molasses.
- The best white grapes are local varieties Obeidi and Merwah.
- The best red grapes are Red Globe and the local Tfayfiheh.
- Grape harvest and molasses production.
- Season: from mid-September until mid-October.
Five steps to follow to produce grape molasses:
- Grapes are detached from their stems and pressed out to obtain juice.
- Juice is transferred to big stainless-steel pots, where a natural pulverized white calcium carbonate clay is added, in Arabic it is named “huwwara” (حوارة) and it is found in Rachaya’s mountains.
- The juice should rest overnight before it is filtered.
- It is transferred to big pots for boiling and is stirred to reach a thick syrupy consistency.
- Old technique used to press the grapes manually: after the syrup is sorted out add the huwwara, let it rest overnight, the second day put the pulverized juice over a fire and let it simmer until it reaches a thick consistency.
Caloric content of grape molasses:
What are the health benefits of grape molasses?
- Relieves the digestive system and relaxes the stomach and intestines.
- Strengthens the body by preventing diseases.
- Rich in calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.
- High in mineral content.
- Prevents anemia and increases the amount of blood in the body.
Where to buy grape molasses?
Rachaya: Mr.Bahaa Kadamani – Grapeful factory : 03-518-523
West Bekaa: Mr.Nabil Chedid – Saghbine : 71-184-017
Chouf: Shibli Abi Assi – Chouf: 03-915-313
Learn more about molasses!