Dibs el ‘inab
Dibs el ‘inab, or grape molasses, is a thick syrup, usually derived from white grapes. It is common to the mountainous regions of Lebanon, and is a central component of the food stock that Lebanese households traditionally put up for winter, known as mouneh.
Before refined sugar was introduced some 150-200 years ago, households in Lebanese villages relied on grape molasses as a generic sweetener. The grape harvest was a communal activity that was welcomed with festivals – essentially moveable feasts that would start in the vineyards, then proceed to the presses for an initial processing. The celebrations would continue at the homes of participating families, who would enjoy desserts prepared from fresh dibs el ‘inab, as together, they completed the processing and bottled the molasses under the direction of the eldest women of the households (Riachy, 1998; al Ghazi, 2001).
There are various recipes for dibs el ‘inab, but the basic procedure involves juicing the grapes, then adding pulverized howara (marl, a calcium carbonate clay-sized mineral). The juice can be let to rest for a few hours, then it is filtered and boiled and stirred so that it can reach a syrup consistency.
The high sugar content and low acidity makes most local Lebanese white grapes suitable to produce dibs el ‘inab. These include obeidi, saraani, shamouti, mikseis, mirweih, magdousheh and salti varieties.