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.
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