At the Ghorayeb family business, one can experience the entire process of dairy production and bulgur. With more than 40 years of experience in dairy production, the mother – Amale Ghorayeb – decided to open her own business of goat milk dairy products. Tante Amale takes milk from shepherds in her village and other surrounding villages, a true ode to local production and Km Zero.
With time, and assisted with her daughter Grace, she extended her business to include cow milk processing and to develop her line of mouneh.
Following her footsteps, her son Fadi, opened a wheat mill and a bakery for mana’ish; he processes wheat to make different grades of bulgur while his wife manages the bakery which makes all sorts of mana’ish and pastries.
Saghbine town is located on the eastern slope of Western Lebanese Mountains, at the foot of Mount Niha, by the Litani River in the heart of West Bekaa.
It is sure that Saghbine is an ancient village that was, in bygone time, a central point of communication between the Chouf and the Bekaa. The mountain trails still link Saghbine with the villages of Mrosti, Jbaa, Baadaran, Aamatour and Bater. The Hanouti area (Hanoto in Syriac which means “stores”), on the eastern side Niha mountain, proves the convoys transit between the Shouf and the Bekaa through Saghbine. Old people confirm the presence of significant vestiges in the mountainous surroundings of the village and in its plain, such as Byzantine tombs and Roman vestiges.
Saghbine is limited by the village of Bab Mareh from the South and Ein Zebde from the North. Its agricultural lands expand to the other side of the Litani River to the villages of Qaraoun, Lala, Baaboul and Jeb Jannine.
Origin of the name
The origin of the name “Saghbine” is commonly related to the hardness and stubbornness of its men. However, Moufarrej, in the Lebanese Encyclopedia, states that origin of the name Saghbine is Aramaic and refers to the “rugged mountain trails”.
Agriculture and Environment
Saghbine is known for its orchards of apple, grape, fig and almonds as well as for its crop production such as wheat, pulses and onions. The village surrounding landscape consists of small forests of varieties of pine trees, cypress, cedar and oak hosting local birds like owls, partridges, Goldfinch, turtledove etc. and mammals like boars and wild rabbits coming from the Shouf Cedar Reserve, foxes and hyenas.
73 km from the capital, and on an altitude ranging from 700 to 1200 m above sea level, Saghbine is characterized by a mild weather and green landscapes. When staying at the village, don’t forget to visit its beautiful old and new churches and chapels.
Make sure you taste its various traditional recipes like zenkoul, potato and walnut kebbe, winter tabboule, fwerigh, its famous lemonade andits ice-cream made with milk goat!
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Who’s better than a shepherd to guide you around the Lebanese mountains and let you discover rural areas. With Boutros Bou Maroun, the shepherd from Saghbine, you will walk in the countryside and get informed about the landscapes you pass through.
On the trail of the Baladi Goat, 3ammo Botrous will delight you with stories about his goats and the wild plants they eat. He knows his goats one by one and calls them by their names!
Making wheat into bulgur is an ancient process that originated in the Mediterranean region and has been an integral part of Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years. It may, in fact, be man’s first “processed food.”
The ancient preparation process is still used in small villages in the eastern Mediterranean: boiling the wheat in huge pots (sometimes for days) until thoroughly cooked, spreading out on flat rooftops to dry in the sun, then cracking the hardened kernels into coarse pieces and sieving them into different sizes for various uses. Bulgur remained exclusively a traditional food of the Mediterranean region for many years.
Modern nutritionists discovered what the ancients already knew: the value of bulgur as a “perfect food” in terms of palatability and keeping quality.
To learn more on bulgur processing, Darb el karam offers a visit to the Ghorayeb family mill in Saghbine, West Bekaa, where visitors can witness the whole process from arrival of harvested wheat to the mill until cracking it into bulgur ready to be used in the kitchen!
With a heartwarming smile, “Ammo Boutros” greets you as soon as you meet him to walk with him and his goats. He has been herding baladi goats since he was a child with his father, a family business since his grandfather’s days.
Ask Boutros about his goats and you will be overwhelmed with a wealth of knowledge that has been running in his family for three generations now. With much pride and confidence he talks about his goats, the quality of goat milk and the wild plants they graze on.
The village of Saghbine hides a hidden treasure, the small scale Ice Cream maker, Joseph Masrouaa’s Saghbine Natural Ice Cream. He inherited the tradition of Ice Cream making from his father . The small Ice Cream shop located in the main street of the village is low key with the simple sign Saghbine’s Natural Ice Cream, Lemonade.
To prepare his Ice Cream, Masrouaa uses fresh goat’s milk from local farmers, as well as fresh fruits for his different flavours. His Ice Cream is characterized by its elasticity. Masrouaa explains that “the quality of the salep used is key in achieving the desirable consistency, salep from Istanbul being the best”.
Masrouaa prepares his basic ice cream mixture by boiling milk with salep, mastic gum, orange blossom water and sugar. Then he flavours the different batches with fresh fruits and nuts. The flavours of ice cream change with every fruit season. At his place, you can enjoy the following ice cream types: almond, milk, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, honeydew melon, watermelon, lemon and mulberry. His fresh lemonade is as famous as his ice cream.
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