“Palouze”, or Cyprus grape jelly, is in my opinion most delicious when served warm. It has a jello-like texture with a hint of orange-blossom flavour. It’s an autumn delight that my family makes e.v.e.r.y. year. Without fail. Think of it like home-made grape jello, without any nasty chemicals.
My family usually makes a lot of “palouze” so the process is A LOT of work. The pictures are from this process (and the process of making “soujoukkos” which is where people dip long strands of threaded almonds into a cauldron of “palouze”), but the recipe below is just for two large portions of “palouze”, which is easily made by one or two people.
In short: first, the grapes need to be picked. Then the “grape must” needs to be made. And then the “palouze” can be made. So there are at three main steps. I am not sure if you can make “palouze” from any type of grape, but I know we use “xynisteri” grapes, which are the most common white grape grown in Cyprus and the ones that grow in our vineyard. If you have not made “palouze” before or watched someone else do it, this process might sound a bit complicated. But I assure you, it is surprisingly easy to make!
For those of you outside Cyprus, I think it may be a bit tricky to make the traditional recipe outside of Cyprus because you will need the ingredient described as “white earth” (it is literally called that even though I have been searching for a more technical name!) and sweet-scented pelargonium, which is a type of fragrant plant. I think you may be able to find the latter in dried form in a health-food shop, but you may need to look for a substitute for the former. The reason “white earth” is added, is to purify the grape juice so perhaps there is another substance that can be used to do this. In any event, you may end up creating a better or alternative tasting “palouze” which can also be quite enjoyable!
3.5 cups of freshly squeezed grape juice In Cyprus, we use “xynisteri” grapes, which are white grapes. If not in Cyprus, you can try well-ripened Malaga or sultana grapes, or another variety of white vineyard grapes.
1 small Greek Columnar Basil sprig This totals to about 20 small leaves of the Greek Columnar Basil variety. I am sure you can try to make “palouze” without other types of basil, but it may not taste the same as the traditional “palouze”.
1 small sprig of leaves from a sweet-scented Pelargonium Graveolens plant Otherwise known as “kiouli” or “arbaroriza” in Cyprus. You could also try to look for dry leaves in a health food store if you do not live in Cyprus.
3.5 heaped tbs of hard flour (village flour)
1 tbs orange blossom water
0range blossom water for lightly covering the bottom of a dish(es) to store the “palouze”
1 heaped tbs white earth (“asprochoma”) This is literally white soil which can be found in the mountains in Cyprus. It can be found in my family’s vineyard and others often ask my family for it when making “palouze.” If you are looking for some “asprochoma” and cannot find some, contact Afrodite’s Kitchen on firstname.lastname@example.org. You use this ingredient to “purify” the grape juice. When you boil the grape juice and add this ingredient, the boiling juice produces a white foam at the top which you skim away.
1. Wash the grapes, and drain the water. Press and squeeze the grapes to get the juice out.
2. Strain and pour the juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. Once the juice reaches a boil, add the white earth “asprochoma”. This will produce more foam that you need to remove.
3. Once the foam has been cleared, add the sweet-scented pelargonium leaves and basil. Heat for a few minutes and remove the juice from the heat. Remove the leaves and basil from the juice. Let the mixture cool for about ten minutes. The “asprochoma” will sink to the bottom of the juice.
4. Pour the juice into another saucepan being careful not to also pour the “asprochoma” which will be at the bottom of the pan.
5. Take about 1 cup of this juice in a bowl and add about 3.5 heaped tbs of hard flour. Stir well until there are no clumps. Strain the flour-juice mixture into another bowl.
6. Pour the remaining juice (2.5 cups) which is already in a saucepan on the stove on medium heat. Add the flour-juice mixture. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture begins to heat up, but before it begins to heavily bubble, add 1 tbs of orange blossom water.
7. Continue to stir. When the mixture begins to have a glossy shine you know it is ready. You also know that the mixture is ready if you put a teaspoon of the “palouze” onto a plate. Wait 10 seconds and turn the plate. If the jelly does not move much, it is done. For beginners, you can begin to test the mixture as soon as you add the orange blossom water.
8. Pour the “palouze” in a shallow dish previously sprinkled with orange blossom water. The sprinkling of orange blossom water is to prevent the “palouze” from sticking to the bottom of the dish, as well as for flavour.
9. Sprinkle with nuts of your choice on top. I added roasted pistachio nuts, but traditionally you can add almonds or walnuts.
10. Eat when warm, or store “palouze” in the fridge for later.