Monday, October 19, 2015


It is impossible to discuss in a few paragraphs knowledge accumulated over millenia about grapes and vines; I can only tell what I know. Back when I was small I did not know that I lived in the heartland of the grape. The climate of Turkey is ideal for growing grapes of all kinds. From the Aegean region, where my family lived, come the white seedless grapes for the best raisins. Sultaniye is the name of a village near Manisa and this is where the renowned Sultana raisins get their name from. These grapes are eaten fresh also.

In Thrace and Anatolia (the European and Asian regions of Turkey), the art of maintaining vineyards goes way back in time. The Hittites, an Anatolian people (c.1600 BC-c. 1180BC) grew grapes. When I was little everyone who had a garden even if it be handkerchief size, owned a grape vine. Vines (family Vitaceae) grew in the gardens, over the streets or above al fresco coffee houses. The vines simply grew and were used as parasols. People still grow grape vines in Turkey every opportunity they have.


“A grape is the fruit of the deciduous woody vines of the botanical genus Vitis. Most grapes come from cultivars of Vitis vinifera (common grape vine), a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran. There are currently between 5000 and 10,000 varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes though only a few are of commercial significance for wine and table grape production”. (



Grapes native to Anatolia number over 1200. Fifty to sixty of these are grown commercially.

There used to be a variety of delicious grapes; tiny white ones, big round ones, long white ones called finger grapes, reddish grapes or dark purplish ones. They all had distinct tastes. Grapes all seem to taste the same these days. I hear words like blanched, hormone treated or sprayed and they don’t sound good.


                                                                                         Koruk                                            New shoots

Turkish cuisine uses unripe grapes called ‘koruk’ for a lemony flavor in dishes. As youngsters we used to eat the sour koruk and the new shoots off the vines.

Dolma-stuffed vine leaves dish comes from Ottoman times. The Turkish name dolma(k) – ‘filled’ (stuffed) is still used by all the peoples in the region formerly under Ottoman rule. Sarma(k)-‘wrapped’ is another name for the same dish.

Here is a recipe for red lentil soup with koruk:
1 c red lentils, 1 small onion diced, 2 cloves of garlic pressed, 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, or olive oil, 1 Tbsp. tomato paste, ½ cup water added, Salt and pepper to taste, 5 c water or 3 c water and 2 c broth, 1 c koruk
Description: Place lentils, water and broth, onion and garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, salt and pepper in a pot and cook on medium heat until the lentils are well cooked about 45 minutes. If you have a pressure cooker cook for 20 minutes. Beat the soup with a hand held processor and place back in the pot. If too thick add another cup of water and add the koruk, bring to boil and serve hot with baguette type bread.

Commercially grown vines raised off the ground can withstand frost more easily


                                                                                                Look who has acquired a taste for grapes


  1. Hi Beste - I love grapes, wine, and dolmes ... they are delicious - I don't get to eat them often enough! I imagine there's so much to learn about vines, the different grapes etc ...

    Shortly I'm leaving .. all the best - Hilary

  2. That soup sounds yummy. I'm still trying to figure out why vine leaves are used for dolma in Turkey (for instance) and not in France or Switzerland...

  3. Interesting, isn't it? We should check it out.