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Moustos: Grape Must

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Grape Must - Squeezing the Grapes

Squeezing the grapes

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

In Greek: μούστος, pronounced MOO-stohs

Moustos is made using the juice squeezed from fresh grapes. In Greece, we make large quantities during the September grape harvest, and it's a great project for kids. It freezes well, and can be used throughout the year.

Moustos is used to make petimezi, a grape syrup known since ancient times that is used like maple syrup, Grape Must Pudding (Moustalevria), and various types of sweets.

Ingredients:

  • 10-11 pounds of green or red September grapes in bunches (with stems)
  • 1/3 cup of wood ash (or 1/8 cup crushed eggshells)

Preparation:

If using wood ash, sprinkle the grapes with the wood ash before starting. (Work in manageable batches.) In a large tub, squeeze the grapes by hand (or use a grape press if available) to get as much juice as possible. Pour the grapes and juice through a strainer, collecting the juice in a large bowl or stainless pot. Discard the skins, stems, seeds and any pulp. If using eggshells, add them to the pot now.

    Note: I make this in batches of 11 pounds of grapes at a time because my pot won't hold more juice. However, if you have a large pot (lobster pot type), you can make more.

Bring the juice to a boil, and skim off foam that rises to the top. Boil for 5 minutes. Leave the pot on the burner, turn off the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Slowly pour the cooled must into containers or a bowl, being careful not to pour out the silt. The cooled grape must can be used immediately or frozen.

Yield: approximately 7 1/2 cups

    Note: Alternatively, sprinkle the grapes with wood ash and place them in a woven plastic bag ("burlap" type). Tie the bag securely. Place the bag in a large tub, cover feet with plastic bags (wear shoes) and stomp the grapes. Strain the juice into pot(s) for cooking as above. Great fun for the kids!
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