Of all things we’ve heard of cyclists being given on tour, a large glass jar of molasses fits into the less practical box. In Turkey, a grape molasses called pekmez fills shelf space next to tahini in the supermarket isles – equal parts of both are mixed together to form a sweet spread.
The cycle tourists in question were our French guests Mike and Amandine and they had been gifted a 800gm glass jar of molasses as well as a huge jar of pickles on their way into Istanbul. We all sampled this dark substance suspiciously and decided its strong mustiness wasn’t to our liking.
Alone in my curiosity as to what it could be used for, I gladly took it off their hands and decided to try to use it up while we had access to a kitchen. What I didn’t know at that stage was that this wasn’t the common grape pekmezi but the carob-based harnup pekmezi, hence the strong, almost bitter taste (er… and picture of beans rather than grapes on the front of the jar).
The following recipes I experimented with called for grape molasses, the key difference in ingredient may have limited our enjoyment of some:
Small amount of molasses distilled in water (recipe here). We hoped it would taste good with vodka.
Amount used: minuscule
Recipe for the road? You could.
Taste: Not pleasant. (Justin suggested it tasted like vomit, though I thought that his description was a little strong)
Jar emptying potential: Very slim.
Bulgur wheat for breakfast? This recipe called for molasses to be diluted into the cooking water.
Amount used: Not enough.
Recipe for the road? Would be easy to cook this instead of porridge in the morning.
Taste: Not sweet enough but we could have upped the molasses content to change that.
Jar emptying potential: Not likely.
Tahini and Molasses
Surely the most popular use of molasses in Turkey. (Add equal parts of each).
Amount used: tablespoon for two pieces of bread
Recipe for the road? The recipe itself is simple enough, but you’d have to carry two highly sticky and spill-able ingredients with you. We’re still more likely to carry honey which is as readily available.
Taste: Strangely addictive, sweet and substantial.
Jar emptying potential: Could do if given enough time.
Ever since settling in Istanbul we’ve been making our own muesli, finding that the very small boxes available in the stores are too expensive for hungry cyclists. I tried adding both molasses and tahini to this batch (recipe).
Amount used: ½ cup
Recipe for the road? Nope.
Taste: A little on the burnt side and way too sweet even though we reduced the molasses to ½ a cup from this recipe.
Jar emptying potential: Low.
I spent a long time looking for a spice cake recipe which would be achievable with ingredients found in Turkey. While the original recipe would have been for American style molasses and I had to substitute yogurt for buttermilk, this one turned out remarkably well.
Amount used: ¾ cup
Recipe for the road? Nope – requires an extensive larder.
Taste: Hands down the best way to use up a jar of molasses.
Jar emptying potential: Very high.