Meet­ing Le­banon's mak­ers of mo­lasses

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENT -

Since the dawn of time, the Mediter­ranean has been abun­dant with the sweet­est fruits and its peo­ple are skilled at pre­serv­ing them. The Food Her­itage Foun­da­tion’s Zeinab Jeam­bey re­searches the tra­di­tion of mak­ing mo­lasses and meets Le­banese pro­duc­ers con­tin­u­ing this sea­sonal rit­ual

In­ter­na­tion­ally, the word mo­lasses of­ten refers to sug­ar­cane mo­lasses, a by-prod­uct of sugar ex­trac­tion by heat­ing sug­ar­cane juice, which be­came fa­mous in the early 20th cen­tury in the sug­ar­cane plan­ta­tions of south­ern USA and the Caribbean. Around the Mediter­ranean, mo­lasses – an an­cient Ro­man tra­di­tion, were made from grape juice and used as the main sweet­ener, along with honey, and were pre­pared as part of the year’s food pro­vi­sions. Though the mem­ory of mo­lasses has al­most faded in Europe, it lives on in the Mid­dle East. Tra­di­tional vari­a­tions in­clude date, grape, carob, fig and mul­berry mo­lasses. Known as debs in Ara­bic, this dense liq­uid is high in nat­u­ral sug­ars and rich in min­er­als. In Le­banon, grape and carob mo­lasses are widely con­sumed. Hap­pily, we dis­cov­ered that ap­ple, cac­tus fruit and sweet or­ange mo­lasses are also be­ing made, at times out of ne­ces­sity, some­times out of cre­ativ­ity.

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