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Jams and Marmalades
mosto cotto
Mosto Cotto
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Special Events
Contributed by: Pauline Fresco (her Zia Rosina's recipe)

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Surplus juice (no seeds) from 1 case (36 pounds) of Alcante wine grapes used to make grape jam* (approximately 10 to 12 cups of juice)
1/2 cup sugar

For smaller quantities:
For 2 1/2 cups wine grape juice, add 1/8 cup sugar

* The surplus juice can also come from the must of any crushed grape that is used to make home-made "red" wine. "Wine grape" is generally referred to as "black grape" as the color of the grape is very dark. Neither the brown-colored grape nor the green-colored grape is used to make Southern Italian-style grape marmalade or mosto cotto. Note that the must should be fresh, before fermentation, so that it does not have any alcoholic content. Obviously, one can also buy "wine" grape or "black" grape and squeeze out its juice (in a strainer) making sure no seeds are left in it, and then proceed to boil it down, and turn it into mosto cotto. The proportions of wine grape juice to sugar are approximately 10 cups juice to 1/2 cup sugar, so that means that if one has 5 cups wine grape juice, then one adds 1/4 cup sugar, if one has 2 1/2 cups juice, one adds 1/8 cup sugar etc. As the grape is already sweet not much sugar is required. The quality of the resulting mosto cotto depends on a large extent on the quality of the grapes, as well as the amount of time spent boiling it down. Obviously, the thicker the mosto cotto ends up being, the more flavor it will contain. Incidentally, Italian specialty shops do sell mosto cotto, but it is expensive.


Mix grape juice with sugar.

Bring to a boil.

Simmer and reduce to 1/2 the amount.

Cool and place in glass containers.


The photo was taken by Mary Melfi; the "mosto cotto" was made by Pauline Fresco.... N.B. In Italy prior to World War II mosto cotto was made in the fall, after the grape harvest. It was prepared at the same time as the wine. The grape juice for the mosto cotto came from the "must" of the crushed grape (Hence its name). The juice was taken from the must as soon as the grape had been crushed, prior to it fermenting, so that there was no alcoholic content to it. This juice was then substantially reduced so that it turned into a syrup. This mosto cotto or grape syrup was stored in glass jars and used to make desserts, such as cookies (e. mostaccioli), fritters (caragnelli) and pastry fillings (e.g. for caucini). Mosto cotto was also used to marinate fish (e.g. cod). Prior to World War II sugar was relatively expensive in Molise, so any substitute was most appreciated. Mosto cotto was not actually a substitute for sugar, but it was sweet, and it did add a special flavor to the local dishes. Nowadays most recipes that originally called for mosto cotto suggest grape jelly as a replacement. Grape jelly does not really have the same taste as mosto cotto, but it's the closest that is readily available. Ironically, in this day and age, sugar is relatively cheap, but store-bought mosto cotto costs a fortune. So those who are interested in trying out traditional recipes might find it worth their while to make their own mosto cotto. It's not all that difficult, but it does take a lot of time.... For various cookie recipes that include mosto cotto see Italy Revisited/Cookies with Nuts, Fritters and Calconi......................................." The Italian Wikipedia's entry for mosto cotto says [English machine translation]: "The cooked must is one of the traditional products approved a proposal from the Abruzzo region by the Ministry. It is produced by pressing ripe grapes with higher sugar quality to that required for ordinary wine (23-25% sugar), then filter the juice.The juice was traditionally cooked in pots or copper pots of terracotta; materials now generally replaced by ' stainless steel. After reaching the boil, the cooking is continued for several hours over low heat until the liquid restriction of the fourth part of its original volume. The product is then refined by aging, which can last up to 24 months. It looks like a purple liquid density and viscosity similar to olive oil, taste particularly sweet........" The original Italian text states: "Il mosto cotto ? uno dei prodotti tradizionali riconosciuto su proposta della regione Abruzzo dal Ministero. Si produce pigiando uva ben matura, con qualit? zuccherina superiore a quella richiesta per la vinificazione ordinaria (23-25% di zuccheri), filtrandone successivamente il succo ottenuto. Il succo veniva tradizionalmente cotto in paioli di rame o pignatte di terracotta ; materiali ora generalmente sostituiti dall' acciaio inox .Dopo il raggiungimento del bollore, la cottura viene continuata a fuoco lento per varie ore, fino alla restrizione del liquido alla quarta parte del suo volume originario. Il prodotto viene poi affinato da invecchiamento che pu? durare fino a 24 mesi. Si presenta come un liquido violaceo di densit? e viscosit? simile a quella dell'olio d'oliva, dal sapore particolarmente dolce."

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