History of Greek Food


When the international demand for black raisins- the major export product of Greece- failed (1893), Greek government bought surplus raisins to produce cheap alcohol, alcoholic beverages and syrup (stafidine). Thus, raisins started to play a major role in alcoholic industry and industrial manufacturing of confectionery products.  Moreover, in 1936   the use of sugar was prohibited in confectionery industry by law. Though carob syrup and other fruit syrups were also used,  raisin syrup remained  the predominant sweetener until 1965.

Today, stafidine is used in bakery products and wine making  (it increases wine’s alcohol potential). 



To make raisin syrup at home is actually  fairly simple.

  A 1:2 ratio of black raisins and water is needed (I used 2 cups of raisins)

Allow raisins to soak for 48 hours in the water

Run raisins mixed with water  through a food processor.

Squeeze them through a muslin or a cheesecloth a couple of times.  

Collect the liquid in a pot.

 Add 1 tablespoon of wood ash to the liquid, stir, and let sit for 2 hours.

It will make a froth. Filter the liquid through the cheesecloth.

Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat  and cook uncovered until forms a dense syrup.

Store in a clean jar.

The home made stafidine can be used as a replacement for  sugar, though some caution is required because it is sweeter than sugar. 

It is a fabulous topping for soft, fresh goat cheese,  yoghurt, ice  cream and many sweet dishes.  Mix it with cold water  to make a deliciously refreshing beverage (1/5 ratio of syrup and water)

A piece of  bread spread with thick raisin syrup (threpsine), was the easiest snack for the kids until  the 1960s.

 A related version of raisin syrup  can be made with dried figs. 

Raisin on Foodista



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  1. admin Post author

    Ηi Rahel,
    The wood ash is intended to clarify the juice as it settles. It is not taken from a certain type of wood but is clean, not from a bbq.

  2. Rachel

    I have never heard of putting wood ash in food! Is this simply what it means: ashes taken from a pile of burning wood? If so, is there a certain type of wood to be burned, and isn’t it dirty?? Sorry if I’m asking some crazy questions here.

  3. admin Post author

    Joumana, if Lebanese grape molasses is similar to Greek petimezi, it is made from grape must.

  4. tasteofbeirut

    I wonder if this is the same as the grape molasses we have in Lebanon? thanks Mariana for providing the recipe I may decide to make my own someday!

  5. admin Post author

    #Peter, raisin syrup was not only the corn syrup of the era but the nutella too. 🙂

    #Karen, my grandmother soaked raisins in cognac instead of water… she drizzled the alcoholic syrup on tiganites, fried pastry puffs.

    #Maria, it was dictator Metaxas who prohibited the use of sugar.

    Eleni, thanks… and welcome! 🙂

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