An Autumn classic ~ Mustopita ~ Μουστόπιτα

October 1st, 2018 § 0

Autumn means the smell of grape must, mustopita, which is an annual ritual dessert for our family!

(I revamped this recipe, that was originally posted on 14/10/2011.)

Grape is native to the Aegean region and its juice sometimes called as nectar of the gods.

The traditional mustopita (μουστόπιτα) or mustoalevria (μυστοαλευριά) recipe has wood ash in it. When I first heard that wood ash is used while making grape paste, I was astonished. But very interestingly, wood ash set offs the taste, makes the pudding more sweet, gives a distinctive flavour. Also wood ash neutralizes the grape must’s acidity.

This made me search the contents of a wood ash. I found out that soda and cream of tartar have a similar effect (but never the same delectable taste of a wood ash).

It is known from the ancient times that, wood ash is rich in potassium and it is an antibacterial.

  • 1 lt freshly blended grape juice
  • 2 T fireplace wood ash (clean and pure wood ash – no paper or other materials/additions)
  • cheesecloth
  • 4 T flour
  • walnut (cut in big pieces)
  • cinnamon

Prepare the grapes (2 kg) by removing the stems. Wash and drain. Put them in a juicer or a blender and juice the fruit. 2 kg of grapes, approximately make 1 lt of grape juice.

Pour the grape juice in a pot.

Place the ash in a cheesecloth. Make the cheesecloth triple folded and bring the four corners together to make a knot.

Tie up the ash packed cheesecloth to a wooden spoon. Swing the wooden spoon into the grape juice pot and bring to boil.

When it comes to a full boil, remove the cheesecloth and set aside. Allow to rest overnight or at least 6 hours, to cool slowly.

Cover the sieve with a clean cheescloth and filter (strain) the grape juice.

Cook the filtered juice by stirring constantly over low heat until it boils.

At the same time, take 4-5 T. of grape juice in a separate bowl. Add 4 T. flour in it and beat until the flour dissolves to make a paste.

Then combine the paste to the simmering grape juice and stir well all together occasionally.

After about half an hour, the mixture begins to thicken. Skim off excess foam.

Add coarsely chopped walnuts. Rinse serving cups with cold water and pour the thick mustopita into them. It will thicken more as it cools.

Decorate with extra walnut on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Home Grape harvesting~September 2014

October 10th, 2014 § 0

Wine is so vital in Greece that many families have a small wineyard which harvest each year. So, most countrysides including the islands, produce their own wine.

The grape harvest season is in the late summer and early fall, like we harvested this year in early September.

The weather shapes the timetable of harvesting with the treat of heat or rain which can damage the grapes.

The ripeness of the grape like its sugar, acid and tannin levels are also determine the time of the harvest. The grape must be at its sweetest during harvesting time.

Sugar is not what makes a wine delicious, but it is a potential alcohol.

Grape picking means a little bit dirt, sticky hands, sometimes bees! But don’t worry, with folks many hands make light work!

After picking the grapes, we placed them gently in baskets.

For red winemaking, first the stems of the grapes are removed.

The grape skins give the wine its colour, for that reason, we put the grape skins in the must.

The pulp (grape skins) and the juice are allowed to ferment for several weeks, before being transferred to another barrel for aging.

The must is made and stored at the storage or most likely the garage. Because it is a dark and a cool place that has all the conditions of a wine cave.

Harvesting cherries

June 30th, 2014 § 0

Cherries are one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits which dates back to B.C. They have pleased our palates for centuries.The cherry tree is native to Asia and Anatolia.

The English word cherry comes from Assyrian karsu and Greek κέρασος (kerasos), which is the ancient name of a city in Black Sea region in Turkey, Giresun. It is beleived that the homeland of the cherry is Giresun and this city gave its name to the fruit.

Their ruby red color and tangy taste won cherries a place on the tables, also give a touch of class to savoury dishes.

Today there are thousands of varieties of cherries and most are still picked by hand.

The cherry tree produces fruit in five years with a bloom period in early April.

This year I had the chance to experiment harvesting rainier cherries (white cherry) in Greek φράουλα (fraula) or πετροκέρασο(petrokeraso).

The white cherries are considered a premium type of cherry that have thin skin and thick creamy yellowish-red flesh.  A good quality of white cherry must be large, firm and have deep creamy colouring.

The brown spotting on the skin indicates high sugar content.  The light yellow to yellow-orange coloured fruit is ready to harvest late June through July. As it ripens in that period, the sugar content rises.

The trees at the countryside that we harvested are not disinfected (fully organic). So, the cherry fruits had communities of insects. The cherry warms do not harm human beings who have accidentally ingested, because they are not adapted to living in human intestines. But it is certainly disgusting to know that you have been eating worms!

Prior to harvest or eating, a simple control is required. Squize the fruit which is near to the stem, if it is soft it means that the fruit is infested by cherry worm.

I loved the taste part. Because you should taste your cherry tree before picking, whether its fruit is ripen.

With a wooden ladder, we climbed up the tree and picked the cherries saying “one for me, one for the basket”!!

We picked the fruit with stems attached because otherwise may spoil easily. The fruit with stem, helps retain their freshness after picking. They keep better and longer if the stem is attached after harvest.

Birds love cherries, especially the white cherries. They love to perch and pick the cherry fruits off. For that reason we decided to leave the fruits that are at the higher branches to birds. So you never get all the fruit, but share some with birds.

We harvested the tastiest cherries ever and enjoyed the outdoors life!

Olive harvest: Extra virgin olive oil

December 5th, 2012 § 0

The traditional olive harvest is around the end of October and November both for Turkey and Greece (the Aegean coast) to get new green olive oil.

This year I had olive picking holiday to the olive groves of Volos!

Here is the story:

A huge net layed under the olive oils.

The olives are harvested by hand, using a very long bamboo stick.

The collected olives are put into baskets. The olives do not stay in the baskets more than 2 days.

Each farmer makes an appointment for pressing the olives at a local mill and spend their time there, throughout the production process.

At the mill, the olives are washed, the extra leaves and stems are removed. Then crushed and milled. The pressing process effects the quality of the oil.  The extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality grade when it is cold pressed (under 30°C ).

This year the fat acidity of our oil is 0.20%.

When the oil arrived to home, we simply dipped our bread in this tasty phosphoric green olive oil and seasoned it with thyme, coriander or tarragon.

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