Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pekmez a molasses-like concentrate of grape juice used as a winter preserve and tonic in Turkey and the Balkans.

The equivalent of pekmez in many Arab countries of the Middle East is dibs. Another example is the S. Italian vincotto or vino cotto; and a third is mostarda (not to be confused with mostarda di frutta di Cremona), in which the concentrated grape juice is thickened with cornflour and flavoured with lemon, orange, nuts, and raisins. See also raisiné (also called vin cuit).

The history of these products goes back to classical times. Before cheap sugar was available, unfermented grape juice (‘must’), rich in naturally occurring sugar and richer still after being concentrated, provided an alternative source of sweetness to honey in grape-growing countries. Cooks in classical Rome used grape juice reduced by specified proportions as a sweetener; defrutum was must reduced to half the original volume; carenum was reduced by one-third; and sapa by two-thirds.