Pais Grape Concentrate

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Pais grape concentrate is prepared by boiling the liquid from black Pais grapes. For every 200 liters of grape juice, 60 to 80 liters of syrup are obtained. After harvesting, the fruit is ground to extract the liquid. The extracted grape juice is placed in a container to boil to reduce while simultaneously adding more liquid until the end of the process. The next day, the liquid is decanted and is reduced again until it reaches the desired consistency. It is important to reach a good boiling point in order to prevent fermentation. In the past, copper pots that held 100 to 200 liters were used to prepare it, but now almost no one still uses these pots. The resulting syrup can be stored for one year or longer. It is consumed as an every day food with bread, milk, or cornbread or mixed with a roux, and it can also be used as a sugar substitute.   The first grapevines reached Concepción and the Itata Valley towns of Coelemu and Portezuelo in western central Chile around 1560, during the earliest Conquista. Wine production in Itata became abundant for white, red, and rose wines, making the black Pais grape very common. Out of this, the concentrate was born. It is believed that the Arabs and Spaniards first practiced the syrup making as far back as the 11th century. When this tradition was brought to Chile, it was immediately accepted by the locals, who prepared it collectively during the harvest period (in March and April) for community feasts. Its preparation is a tradition that is passed down through families from mother to daughter.   Pais grape concentrate is not found in normal markets, and only occasionally in informal markets. There are few people who still prepare it, due to the time consuming process and the decrease in use of the copper pots that could once hold large quantities. It is mainly produced today for personal use. Additionally, the presence of the Pais grape has also declined, as people in the valley switch to uprooting the vineyards to cultivate exotic forest species (like pine and eucalyptus). Finally, migration of young people out of the area means that the intergenerational exchange of knowledge of the Pais grape concentrate may soon be lost. 

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