Petimezi: Grape Molasses. Concentrated Grape Juice. Nectar of The Greek Gods?

Petimezi   Made by Panagiotis Mantzioros

 Made by Panagiotis Mantzioros
Halki, Corinthias.
Exactly what is petimezi, this delicious, sweet elixir, created in ancient Greece thousands of years ago?

To find out, I went to visit Panagiotis in Halki, a rather out of the way picturesque little village, off the beaten track, in the Vocha region of Corinthia.

Halki Corinthias
Halki Corinthias

Home to Panagiotis and his family.

The panoramic views of the Peloponnese and the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs, around the village of Halki, nestling in the hills above the coastal town of Vraxati, a few kilometres West of Corinth, are breath-taking.

Halki is set at the foot of Fokas, or Foucault, where the Chapel of Our Lady (Dedicated to Virgin Zoodochos Pigi) can be found, perching precariously on the mountain side.


A famous landmark on the Corinthian landscape, rich in mythology.
TheChapel of Our Lady, dedicated to Virgin Zoodochos Pigi.
The religious "feast  of the life-giving spring" attracts people every year.

Here, in this peaceful, traditional Greek village, Panagiotis produces his petimezi, nectar of The Greek Gods.

Panagiotis, a sweeter man you couldn’t wish to meet, was waiting for me and after coffee, served to us by his delightfully hospitable mother; Panagiotis taught me all there was to know about petimezi.

Panagiotis explained to me that petimezi is pure, 100% natural, concentrated, unfermented grape juice, known in ancient times as epsima (The name for petimezi still used in Cyprus today).

Panagiotis Mantzioros
Panagiotis Mantzioros

Farmer & producer of petimezi.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, mentions petimezi as long ago as the fifth century BC, and Aristophanes, the Athenian playwright, also refers to it.

Petimezi, the world’s oldest natural sweetener, is thick, dark, sweet syrup (The depth of colour depends on the type of grape used).

The flavour is unique, sweet, with a heavenly burnt caramel after taste, it's the healthiest alternative to sugar there is!

Petimezi Pure, concentrated grape juice.
Pure, concentrated grape juice.
The world's oldest natural sweetener.

It is produced after the grape harvest, (Trigos in Greek) in late August to October, by boiling pure, fresh grape juice, in enormous vats, for hours, if not days, until about only a fifth of the original liquid remains.

Semeli Winery, Nemea.

Visiting Semeli Winery, Nemea.
It was the "Trigos" (grape harvest in Greek)
The aroma was intoxicating.

Panagiotis takes pride in making authentic petmezi in the traditional way, the way it was made, thousands of years ago.

Nothing is added, no sugar, no colouring, it’s pure, natural, concentrated grape juice.

The grapes Panagiotis uses, Corinthian sultanina, golden, seedless grapes with a delicate, unique flavour and sweetness, are grapes grown by himself, and by his father before him.

Sultanina grapes are packed with iron, potassium, selenium and vitamins A and B.

Corinthian Sultanina grape
Corinthian Sultanina grape

The grape used by Panagiotis for his petimezi.
Traditionally imported from the Ottoman Empire, according to folklore,
 the Sultan left his grapes in the sun too long after fleeing when attacked by a tiger.
There after they were called sultanas. (The femine form of sultan)

The whole process takes three days to complete, the grape juice is boiled, froth is skimmed off.

 It’s boiled again, skimmed again, left to rest, boiled again.

Petimezi in production
Petimezi in production

Boil, boil and boil agan!
 Either clean wood ash, or special clean white earth is added, to remove all impurities from the juice, and, yes, you guessed it, boiled again, until the desired result is reached.

petimezi Mantzioros
Boiling vats of grape juice.

You can imagine the heat in here ,
when Panagiotis, is cooking up his petimezi!

Panagiotis’ whole family help with the procedure.

 There’s much stirring of this aromatic potion, everyone takes their turn.

  I can tell you, it becomes rather hot in there!

petimezi Mantzioros
Froth formed on the boiled grape juice.
Waiting to be skimmed off.

It’s a true labour of love, done, as they say in Greece, with MERAKI ,something done with passion and with pride.

 Petimezi, the healthiest sweetener in the world is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and B, minerals, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium, the list goes on.

It has many uses in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, the most common being to flavour “Mustokouloura” grape must cookies, seen in all bakeries and patisseries at the time of the grape harvest, delicious, spicy, dark cookies, with rather a gingery flavour.


Delicious cookies flavoured with petimezi.Found in all Greek bakeries and cake shops around the time of the grape harvest.

Another use for grape must is “Mustalevria” a kind of pudding, made from flour and grape must, served in small dishes and topped with chopped nuts.

Instead of using shop bought syrups and sauces, use petimezi as a healthy topping on yoghurt or ice cream, mix it with balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing.

It adds a burst of flavour when added to soups and stews, and it’s perfect for making a sweet and sour sauce, or for drizzling over mature cheese.

In fact, you can't go wrong with petimezi, anywhere that calls for refined sugar (bad for your health!), use petimezi instead!

Panagiotis tells me, that petimezi, as old as the vine, has been known since ancient times to work wonders for coughs and colds, and, taken in a shot glass every morning, or diluted in a glass of water, will give you so much energy, you may very well have the strength of Hercules!

Petimezi Mantzioros

A shot of this everyday could give you the strength of Hercules!

 In Greece, during the war, when sugar was not to be found, petmezi was the only sweetener available.

  As food was scarce, petimezi, being so full of vitamins, mineral and iron, was daily given to soldiers, to help keep their strength up.

Petimezi Mantzioros

Relieves coughs and sore throats.
Used since ancient times

Panagiotis has a wonderful story about how he came to produce petimezi.

As is typical in small, traditional Greek villages, families live in the same house for years, handed down, from generation to generation.

So it is with Panagiotis and his family.

One day, while clearing out an old outhouse, Panagiotis came across an old bottle, brushing off the cobwebs, he saw that it contained a thick brown liquid.

Every thing started from something like this!

A bottle of petimezi, made by Panagiotis' grandmother ,
over thirty years ago.

Cautiously opening it, he took a smell, what could it be?

On showing it to his mother, she informed Panagiotis that it was petimezi, made by his grandmother Alexandra, more than thirty years ago.

As Panagiotis went to throw it away, his mother stopped him, telling him that Petimezi keeps forever, it never goes off and needs no refrigeration.

This discovery played on Panagiotis’ mind, it put the seed of an idea in his head, and in 2004, after much trial and error, Panagiotis put his first 100% pure and natural, authentic petimezi on the market.

Panagiotis Mantzioros
Panagiotis Mantzioros

Promoting his petimezi in Germany.

Little did Alexandra know, that leaving her jar of her homemade petimezi in that outhouse, over thirty years ago, would prompt Panagiotis into creating the successful petimezi business that he runs today!

Thank you Panagiotis, for an enthralling afternoon, for teaching me about this unique Greek product, and thank you for the bottles of  petimezi, I love it, I use it anywhere I can, I especially like it on yoghurt, or ice cream, oh, and on salad, oh, just about on anything!

Greek breakfast
Greekers Breakfast!

Homegrown figs, Greek yoghurt and petimezi.

I wish Panagiotis and his family all the best.

 It’s so refreshing to see people keeping old traditions going, with their hard work and devotion, slowly but surely, many long forgotten artisan skills are making a come back.

Have a look at Panagiotis' website at the link below.
There are some mouthwatering recipes on there, 
Why not give them a try?

Through being so enthusiastic about petimezi, telling friends about it and feeding it to my family, people are now asking where it can be found outside of Greece.

I’m sure that it can be found in select gourmet shops, ask around in your area.

Failing that I did come across some online, while looking for a friend.

I haven’t tried it, but, reading the information, it does appear to be authentic.

 A reassuring note is that it won the Great Taste Award 2013.

See details for buying  petimezi online HERE

Maybe petimezi really is the nectar, mentioned in Greek mythology, thousands of years ago.

Wouldn't it be fabulous if that were true?

Hebe Goddess of youth

In Greek mythology, Hebe is the Goddess of youth, daughter of Zeus and Hera.
Hebe was the cup bearer for the Gods and Goddesses of Mount Olympus.
Serving them nectar and Ambrosia, until she married Heracles.
 Her successor was Zeus's lover, Ganymede,
which explains why another title of hers is Ganymeda.

It is said, in ancient Greek mythology, nectar is a drink, a divine drink that the Olympian Gods had, with  magical powers,  granting immortality to any mortal who had the luck to drink it.

Ambrosia is a food,  in general, only to be eaten by deities, to achieve immortality.
 Whoever consumed ambrosia, no longer had blood in their veins, but a substance called ichor, a golden fluid believed to be toxic to mortals, killing them instantly.

Thetis, mother of Achilles, is said to have anointed Achilles with ambrosia when he was born, and then passed his body through flames, causing all his mortal elements to be destroyed.

Now to begin the search for ambrosia!

Thoughts on this anyone?

Learn about another delicious Petimezi, made from the most ancient of fruits, the original "Super "Food";
the pomegranate.

Pomegranate Petimezi

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