Farmers and Producers

The Heritage Guardians: Lina Haddad Tomato Paste Producer

Known for its abundant tomatoes, Kherbet Qanafar in West Bekaa produces some of the tastiest tomato paste in Lebanon. As part of the “The Heritage Guardians” series which highlights local producers in the framework of the MedSnail project, ESDU met Lina Haddad, a seasoned producer who has been making tomato paste for the past 13 years with her husband. Subtle and special, Lina’s tomato paste is worth a taste.


Yellow Cake with Grape Molasses “Sfouf b’Debes”

Sfouf b’Debs

Yellow cake with grape molasses “Sfouf b’Debes”

Grape molasses has many uses. It can be used to sweeten cookies, cakes and breads. It can be made into a refreshing drink and can also be used to flavor puddings, BBQ sauce and gravies. We recommend you try “Sfouf b’Debes” for a truly delicious food experience.

Recipe: Yellow cake with grape molasses or “Sfouf b’Debes”

Ingredients: (makes 11 pieces)

150g of ferkha flour

150g of flour

200g of grape molasses

75g of vegetable oil

20g of powdered milk

5g of baking powder

200g of warm water

5g of instant yeast

5g of powdered aniseeds


Pinch of sesame seeds

Preparation steps

  1. Preheat the oven to medium heat.
  2. Mix flours, powdered milk, instant yeast, baking powder and the powdered aniseeds.
  3. Add the vegetable oil and rub well.
  4. Add the grape molasses and the warm water.
  5. Spread the tahini in a nonstick oven pan and pour the mixture.
  6. Spread the sesame seeds.
  7. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes, and then put it in the oven for 25 minutes
  8. Serve cold.

Learn more about molasses!


Super Healthy Meshmoush!

Contributing writer:  Yasmina OLABI, Licensed Dietitian

The unique agricultural nature of the Lebanese land and its distinctive weather create convenient agro-climatic conditions for a variety of crops to grow. The rich soil and the adequate sun exposure contribute to a uniquely-refined taste, excellent firmness, color and sugar content of fruits.

Amareddine or apricot “leather” left in the sun to dry

Apricot is one of the major fruits produced in the country, located mainly in the North of Lebanon and northern Bekaa. Besides being consumed fresh, apricots are transformed into jams and juice.

Traditionally grown varieties are locally known as Ajami (medium size and excellent taste!), Biady (light in color with a sweet flavor and low firmness), Um Hussein (perfect for jams!), Dehab asfar (or yellow gold big in size, firm and excellent for processing), moubaker (early variety with acidic flavor), frensewe or French variety and telyane or Italian both of low firmness and good taste.

Nutritional value of apricots 

Apricotsare extremely nutritious with a variety of health benefits. Their fibrous skin and their high soluble fiber content feeds the body’s healthy gut bacteria, consequently boosting the digestive health.  Besides this, apricots are an excellent source of vitamins that are essential for eye health.

Apricot orchards in Nabi Ayla, Bekaa ©Lebanon Traveler

Apricots are naturally high in antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the human body. They contain numerous antioxidants, most notably flavonoids, which help in protecting the body from oxidative stress that is linked to many chronic diseases. Along with potassium, apricots aid nerve signaling, muscle contractions, and fluid balance which may help in preventing high blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. Moreover, antioxidants guard against the environmental damage of sunlight and pollution. These compounds benefit the skin by lowering the risk of wrinkles and sunburn.

Additionally, apricots are naturally high in water, which is essential for hydration. Proper hydration is vital for several aspects of health, including blood pressure and heart rate.

Two fresh apricots (70 grams) provide:

  • Calories: 34
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.27 grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Vitamin A: 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 8% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 4% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV

Apricot jam recipe:

Local producers use either the Ajami or the Um Hussein apricots varieties with preferably the latter in jam making.

Amila Azzam from Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa, prepares at home a wide variety of jams including her famous apricot jam with a unique golden color. She uses the “Frensewe” apricot from her small orchard. According to Amila, for each one kilo of apricot, half a kilo of sugar is added and then left to soak in the cooking pot from the evening till the next morning. Amila then put the soaked apricot on low heat with continuous stirring until apricots are dissolved and the required texture is reached. Ten minutes before turning the heat off, she adds lemon powder. When using fresh lemon juice, it is advised to add the juice of half a lemon in the middle of the cooking process and not at the end. Amila then fills the jam in glass jars while still hot, and closes them tightly. Jars are then places in the sun for a couple of days before storing in a cool and dry place for winter.

Caloric content of apricot jam:

To support local production, you can order your fresh apricots or apricot jam from local producers around Lebanon:

Apricot farmers:

Rola Faraj, Ain Zebdeh, Bekaa: 03-565 626

Khairat Ksarnaba Coop “خيرات قصرنبا”   , Raghida Dirani, Ksarnaba, Baalbek: 70-609 123

Zadat El Kheirat Coop “زادت الخيرات” , Raghida El Masri, Bedneyel, Baalbek: 03-796 248

Tamnin Coop, Tamnin El Fawka, Baalbek: 70-280 538

Kassem El Shabb, Arsal: 03-358 654

Apricot jam producers:

Khiara Coop “خيرات بقاعنا”, Najla Haidar, Khiara, West Bekaa: 70-566 456

Muhaidthe Coop “نجمة الصبح”, Rabah Jamal, Muhaidthe, West Bekaa: 70-561 410

Rashaya Gardens Coop “حدائق راشيا”, Linda Fayeq, Rashaya, Bekaa: 08-592 500

Khairat Ksarnaba Coop “خيرات قصرنبا”   , Raghida Dirani, Ksarnaba, Baalbek: 70-609 123

Zadat El Kheirat Coop “زادت الخيرات” , Raghida El Masri, Bedneyel, Baalbek: 03-796 248

Amal Abou Kheir, Rashaya, West Bekaa: 81-996 562

Roudaina Seif El Deen, Rashaya, West Bekaa: 76-704 314

Lina Haddad, Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa: 70-671 399

Amila Azzam, Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa, 76-144 202


“Beit el Mouzareh” in West Bekaa

Saturday September 30, 2017 was a beautiful autumn day to have a farmers’ market in the West Bekaa!

Lina, host and mouneh producer on darb el karam

The event organized by the Food Heritage Foundation in collaboration with arcenciel, was hosted by Chateau Kefraya. Around ten producers from the Bekaa region displayed local products including fresh fruits and vegetables, organic food, traditional mouneh (preserves), soap and other local produce.

Traditional mouneh from the ladies of Saghbine

Beit el Mouzareh” or the house of the farmer is an initiative by arcenciel – agriculture program to support farmers and producers from the Bekaa region. The souk was founded in 2016 and is held every Sunday during summer at the convent of Tanail.

Salamouneh onions, honey and other local products

For the first time, the souk moved to the West Bekaa to include producers from darb el karam – food trail and others from the villages around the trail.

Organic vegetables from Le Potager

Visitors from Beirut and neighboring villages enjoyed delicious healthy food and wine while supporting local farmers and women.

Natural soaps from Anjar


Souk aal Souk visits the city

Flowers and plants
Flowers and plants

On Sunday July 12, 2015, the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University in Beirut and the Food Heritage Foundation brought their farmers’ market “Souk aal Souk” to Zalka – Amaret Shalhoub. The souk was organized in collaboration with the municipality of Zalka – Amaret Shalhoub that gave its full support in preparing the event.

souk aal souk 7.12.2

Souk aal Souk farmers’ market which was established in 2013 with the support of the social responsibility initiative of Waterfront City, promotes local food production and healthy eating habits in academic institutions such as AUB and LAU where it is organized on a regular basis.

Kids corner
Kids corner

Traditional sweets and marzipan
Traditional sweets and marzipan

For the first time, Souk aal Souk came out of the academic framework and went to the city of Zalka – Amaret Shalhoub bringing food producers from different Lebanese regions to showcase traditional sweets, organic and conventional fruits and vegetables, fresh juices, flowers etc. In addition, a special kid’s corner was organized with drawing and coloring activities. Cirqu’enciel also performed an acrobatic street show which added more fun to the ambiance.

All kind of mouneh
All kind of mouneh

Cirquenciel acrobatic show
Cirquenciel acrobatic show

Cirquenciel acrobatic show
Cirquenciel acrobatic show

Visitors coming mainly from the Metn and Keserwan regions, welcomed the idea of the souk and what it has to offer from local and traditional foods, and demanded to have the farmers’ market organized periodically. On the other side, producers were also satisfied from this experience and showed their enthusiasm of finding new marketing opportunities for their products in urban settings other than Beirut.