Petmezi is a traditional Greek molasses obtained from sugar cane. Although the raw material was imported a long time ago from Asia, this type of processing is typical of Thrace, a Greek region located in the eastern part of the country. This region has always been a meeting point of different cultures, which by mixing, have made changes to each other.
Petmezi has a dark amber color with golden reflections and is similar to chestnut honey. The flavor differs from the classic cane sugar because it is stronger, has bitter notes and reminds us of the caramel parfum, with herbaceous and mineral notes. The consistency in the mouth is honeyed and compact, free of lumps.
The production of this natural sweetener dates to very ancient times; probably, even if we are in the absence of historical evidence, the first community able to produce it was the Ottomans. The legend says that Alexander the Great himself fell in love with sugar cane during one of his travels and took it to the West. From here, first thanks to the Ottoman Empire and then to the Greeks, the production was carried out.
The transformation of sugar cane into molasses was then abandoned due to the cheapness of industrial products that replaced the traditional product, even in the farmers’ homes. Another factor that facilitated this replacement is the high cost of extraction machineries. Over time, some women did their utmost to recover this traditional product, until in 1999 in Genisea, the ancient capital of Xanthi in the Thrace region, an association was born that has aimed at revaluing the land. Among the main activities of these women, starting in 2006, there is the production of Petmezi. The products are supported by the storytelling that emphasizes the importance of the product for the territory itself and the population that inhabits it. The intention of this association is to make the new generations aware that this genuine product has accompanied the life of the elderly people in the swamps outside Genisea and that it could still offer a healthy alternative to industrial sugar.
Petmezi is used in multiple preparations, such as natural sweetener in jams, especially pumpkin and quince, in traditional desserts, instead of refined sugar and in yogurt, but also in salads, as a glaze for meats and as an accompaniment to cheeses. Some elderly people use it as a sweetener for coffee