Sunday, 21 March 2010


Mahlepi is derived from the St Lucie Cherry tree. 

What wonderful blossoms! They have the aroma of mahlepi, sweetly fragrant. 

Mahlepi has been widely used throughout the Mediterranean for centuries to flavour breads, biscuits, and less sweet cakes and pastries. In Greece, mahlepi is used for holiday desserts such as tsoureki and other egg based yeast cakes. It's an unusual and fragrant spice made from the kernels of the black cherry tree Prunus mahaleb, which grows throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East.

The cherry stones are cracked and the kernels are extracted, dried, and sold as mahlepi. Before using, the kernels must be ground to a powder either with a mortar and pestle or with a coffee grinder. The flavour of mahlepi is a combination of almond and cherry, and it gives a sweet nutty tone to the desserts it flavours. It can be found in Greek or Middle Eastern stores where it is available both whole or ground. However, as it quickly deteriorates once ground, it is preferable to purchase whole and grind the kernels when needed. Store it in airtight containers. Tip: for a subtle note add one teaspoon of ground mahlepi to pastry for fresh fruit flans. Try adding a bit of mahlepi to rice pudding.

The gorgeous trunk of the St Lucie cherry tree!

The measuring spoons hold the tiny kernels that reside inside the stones of the St Lucie cherry tree. The stones are cracked and the kernels are extracted and dried. They are then sold as mahlepi. As seen in the top measuring spoon, the kernels are pulverised before they can be used in recipe preparation. Next to the mahlepi is a bottle of mastic. Mastic flavouring frequently accompanies mahlepi, especially when making tsoureki, the Greek Easter bread.