For women in Turkey's Tekirdağ province, autumn is the busiest time of year. Waking up early in the morning, they embark on a hard day at work: First picking grapes and piling them into huge boilers where the juice of the grapes are extracted from their pulps and seeds before being left to rest for 24 hours before the heaviest work begins. The grape juice, mixed with clean clay, is boiled for hours until it thickens. As the grape juice boils, local women stir the mixture with wooden spoons to prevent it from sticking to the boiler. After it thickens to the proper consistency, the molasses is poured into airtight glass jars.
The women are preparing pekmez, a type of spread that is commonly made from grapes. There are several different types made from various fruits, the most common versions of this natural remedy being made with fig, mulberry and carob. Nearly all regions of Anatolia have their own version of pekmez, made in a unique and signature way.
The fertile lands of Anatolia are abundant with fresh fruits. Written documents dating back to the 11th century show that the Turks have been juicing fresh fruits and turning them into food for centuries. The favorite of those times was bekmez (pekmez), which was then made with grapes.
Before sugar became available, Turkish sweets were sweetened with pekmez or honey. Hence, pekmez was - and still is - a major sweetener in traditional Turkish cuisine. Pekmez, which the Turks developed in order to preserve grape juice, both converted grapes and must, which easily spoiled, into a long-lasting form, and helped meet the need for sugar and sweeteners.
There are various ways to eat pekmez, and it is widely considered as a sweet treat suitable for the breakfast table as it is easily spreadable on slices of bread. Mixing sesame paste with pekmez is also a preferred way to enjoy something sweet on the cold winter days. For the more adventurous, pekmez is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. Simply add pekmez as a substitute for sugar in recipes to add delicious taste to sweets without the calories.
Pekmez is the first sweet choice of Turks, and the health benefits of pekmez have been clinically proven, as well. Finding its way into traditional Turkish cuisine, pekmez was later rediscovered as a natural remedy. It contains simple sugar that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream without having to be digested and, as a result, it is good for boosting energy levels. Given the fact that two tablespoons of pekmez contain 2 milligrams of iron, 80 milligrams of calcium and 58 kilocalories of energy, it is preferred among people looking to boost their immune system.
Here are some of the types of pekmez that are made with various fruits, all of which will protect your body in the cold days ahead:
Made by boiling carobs, this type of pekmez is said to be the ultimate cure for anemia. Although it is difficult to eat because of its thick consistency and extremely sweet taste, carob pekmez is one of the most beneficial of all.
It is also said to be good for the heart as it regulates blood pressure levels, provides energy and strengthens the bones with its high level of calcium content. It also promotes a healthy digestive system. Doctors often advise people suffering from lung diseases to consume carob pekmez. Moreover, this type of pekmez is considered as an "innocent sweet" because it is good for the teeth and gums.
Carob pekmez is also highly recommended for pregnant women because it contains high level of protein, providing additional nutrients for expecting mothers.
The Andız tree (also known as the Syrian juniper tree) grows around the Taurus Mountains in Anatolia and the fruit of this tree is used to make pekmez. The Andız fruit, named after the tree, are boiled and used to make this type of pekmez which is said to be good for treating allergies, rash, hair loss, psoriasis and gout.
Doctors recommend consuming Andız pekmez for chronic cough and high fever. It helps clean the bloodstream and protects the liver, heart and veins. Andız pekmez also helps rid the body of toxins and eliminates parasites in the bowels. Children are advised to consume 1 teaspoon of this pekmez two times daily, while adults should consume 1 tablespoon.
Like other types of pekmez, mulberry pekmez is the number one blood-building food. Experts claim that it is good for patients who suffer from stomach pains and is also known to have a soothing effect on asthma and bronchitis patients. As mulberry pekmez increases body heat, it has a healing effect on people suffering from colds and the flu. Children are also advised to consume 1 tablespoon of mulberry pekmez two times a day as it helps growth hormones.
If you haven't eaten anything for hours and are feeling tired, all you need to do is eat 1 tablespoon of date pekmez to restore your energy. Date pekmez is good for the development of both the body and mind. Similar to other types of pekmez, it is a good natural remedy for coughs and colds, as well. Date pekmez is said to be a natural remedy that reduces the risk of all cancer types. Experts say that consuming 1 tablespoon of date pekmez two times a day can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Black mulberry pekmez
Black mulberry pekmez is good for the stomach. Simply 1 tablespoon of black mulberry pekmez provides benefits for those suffering from ulcers or chest pains. A natural diuretic, black mulberries are a natural remedy for treating urinary tract infections. Thanks to its high vitamin and mineral content, this type of pekmez is good for the bones, teeth and gums. Moreover, breastfeeding mothers are advised to eat black mulberry pekmez as it is said to increase milk production.