SABA has been produced since ancient times, when sugar was expensive and not widely available. It is essentially made from the trebbiano or lambrusco grapes that were thinned out before harvest in those wine growing areas. They were mashed with juice, skins and seeds and then reduced by boiling into a syrup. The syrup was used to sweeten and still is though sugar is now widely available, of course. It is elevated to gourmet status when used on fruit, cheese, and even to enhance a pan sauce or jus for meats and fish. SABA may even have been the prelude to balsamic vinegar, some sources say, because it was often stored in old vinegar barrels, and perhaps inspired the evolution of balsamic.

Other names for SABA are sapa, vin cotto or mosto cotto. A syrup called pekmez is made in Turkey from grapes or pomegranate juice and is sold as pomegranate molasses, another favorite condiment we use. And in New England boiled cider has been used for sweetener since colonial times.

Homemade versions use mashed grapes, some vinegar and sugar and are fortified with raisins.


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