Squeezing those grapes

We’re well and truly into the swing of Autumn/Fall here in Sicily even if it seems the weather has forgotten what time of year it is and the Sirocco wind is wreaking havoc withering everything it touches.

For those unfamiliar with the term Sirocco here’s a definition from our friends at Wikipedia:

Sirocco, scirocco, /sɪˈrɒkoʊ/, jugo or, rarely, siroc (Catalan: Xaloc, Greek: Σορόκος) is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe. It is derived from the North African Arabic word for south qibli (قبلي) etymologically derived from the word “qibla”.

Pesky winds aside the harvest of grapes has begun and I thought I’d share a little side line dish/treat that Sicilian’s make this time of year.

My grandparents would boil up the fresh grape juice, thicken it with flour and dry it out to make a chewy like candy treat sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts. They called it the ‘mustarda’. Looking around for it on the net I’ve come up with other boiled varieties of grape juice like ‘mosto cotto, saba, and mostarda’ which are more like preserves.

Here’s what the latest batch looks like as prepared by my talented sister in law, Antonella:

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It’s very sweet and once it cools down looks a lot like candy.

To be honest I’m not a fan of myself but I remember for my Sicilian grandparents it was considered a wonderful treat.

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