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Information for Mahlab

Known in Greece as mahlepi, mahlab or mahleb is a spice produced from the seeds of Prunus mahleb or St. Lucie Cherry from the Rosaceae family. Originating in the Mediterranean throughout Turkey, Mahlab was first used in perfume production in Turkey and the Middle East. Later on it was used to add flavor to breads. Today, Iran, Turkey and Syria are among the top producers of this spice.

Before processing the mahlab seed is a buff colored ovoid. This is cracked to bring out the seed kernel which is then ground. The end product is a yellow colored powder that has a sweet smell with hints of cherry and almond. In terms of taste, mahlab has a mixture of flavors being faintly sweet like rose water with a hint of nuttiness and bitterness without any unpleasant aftertastes.

Most commonly used in the creation of less sweet pastries, cakes, breads and biscuits in the Middle East and Mediterranean mahlab has a unique flavor. This is also a common ingredient in many Greek Holiday recipes. It mixes well with milk, fruit, nuts and honey. With its strong taste, this spice is often used sparingly to create a subtle flavor and avoid producing an overpowering taste.

Photo Credit: joana hard
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