What’s for dessert: Mosto cotto

Yes, you can actually grow grapes in the desert.

I’m not sure how I stumbled across a website that discussed mosto cotto and how to make it, but I realized I had the raw ingredients growing right in our back yard.

The previous owner of Casa Flor, who went on to become winemaker at the Dos Cabezas Wineworks down by Tucson, planted a half-dozen or so grapevines of wine grapes right outside the back door. Each year we usually treat them as an attractive nuisance; the vines sprawl like tomato plants, so it seems like we’re always trimming them back so we can make it to the door unimpeded. But they’re established plants that don’t require more water than anything else, so we never felt the need to yank them out, and the birds enjoy the ripened fruit.

But this year I observed the ripening process and when the grapes looked (and tasted) done, I headed outside with clippers to collect the bunches.

Sadly, there were to be no Lucy-style shenanigans during the grape-crushing process, although I did briefly consider how much more juice I might be able to extract using my Size-13s instead of a sieve and my hands. My first discovery was that despite the color of the grape skins, their juice was nowhere near the Concord-style purple I had been expecting. There wasn’t as much juice as I had thought, either, but I soldiered on.

Or simmered on, as the case might be: stirred and skimmed and simmered until the liquid had thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. (“What is the consistency of hot maple syrup?” I wondered, and erred on the side of runniness, just in case.)

The end result: about a half-cup of mosto cotto, or not even enough to fill a custard cup. But like anything that’s been reduced by 2/3, its flavor has intensified to where only a drizzle would be needed.

For now, it’s sitting in our fridge. It’s a good thing mosto cotto lasts a year, because as this post revealed, the residents of Casa Flor occupy a plane notable for its absence of homemade ricotta, or pecorino cheese and pears, both suggestions of the original blog post. I’ll likely end up either using it on apples or reserving it for the next time I make panna cotta.

WHAT SAM WORE: 8-22-12
The shirt: Muscle-fit polo by Abercrombie & Fitch, from Buffalo Exchange.
The pants: Dark-wash slim jeans from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: Leather slip-ons by Bacco Bucci, from Last Chance.

One response to “What’s for dessert: Mosto cotto

  1. Sam, you are the most interesting man I think I’ve ever met, and I’ve met a few!

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