5 Ingredients or Fewer

Mosto Cotto (Grape Must Syrup)

October  2, 2016
Photo by Emiko
Author Notes

A one-ingredient, versatile Italian condiment that only gets better with age. Also known as sapa, saba or vincotto, you can use it for everything from a sugar or honey substitute to a cocktail ingredient. It's also wonderful on a cheese plate or used as part of a sauce or dressing for roast meats or salad. You can also make it with fruit other grapes—most traditionally, it's done with wine grapes, but figs (see my recipe for fig honey) or prickly pears are use, too. It's usually made with grape must (grapes pressed for the initial stages of fermentation as the first stage of wine making), but as that can be tricky to come by for some people, the recipe below is made with fresh grapes that you press yourself. Try, if you can, to age this—in Abruzzo, for example, it's often aged for 24 months. —Emiko

  • Makes one jar
  • 4 pounds grapes (best kind would be wine grapes of any variety, or concords, alternative fruits are figs or prickly pears)
In This Recipe
  1. Wash the fresh grapes and pull them off the stems. Press the grapes to extract their juice (a food mill or juicer is handy here), otherwise simply do this by hand. Pour the juice through a fine mesh sieve or muslin cloth to remove the seeds and skin, then place in a saucepan and boil juice very gently and slowly until the juices reduces by about a third of the original volume and is thick like syrup. (As it cools, it will thicken further, so be careful not to go too far.)
  2. Bottle the syrup in sterilized jars and keep for as long as you can before using it (some age it for 24 months), although it will be hard to resist.

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The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.