Bakmazi is a thick and sticky juice, made from sweet fruits like grapes, melons, watermelons, and berries, which is boiled and preserved for winter. A natural, environmentally-safe product, and a delightful dessert, it is also used in cakes and cookies and is eaten with buttered bread as well.

The mulberry was first brought to Georgia from what are today known as Iran and Afghanistan, and it is most widespread in the southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, where the processing of mulberries and the making of wondrous delicacies are well practiced. In this region, locals distill vodka from mulberries, make fruit rolls, and also dry fruit. However, a standout traditional delicacy, and one of the hallmarks of the Samtskhe-Javakheti Region, is mulberry Bakmazi.  

The Therapeutic Properties of Bakmazi

Bakmazi is also known as Meskhetian honey and, along with its nutritional value, it also bears therapeutic properties. In particular, mulberry Bakmazi serves as an exceptional medicine for a sore throat, cough, or cold, can remedy stomach infections, and even raise hemoglobin levels when they are low. Moreover, when people with bronchial asthma eat mulberry fruit rolls, their attacks ease. In addition, tea made from mulberry leaves has traditionally been drunk for therapeutic purposes as well.

Mulberry vodka is also good for people with diabetes. Indeed, one tablespoon of mulberry vodka on an empty stomach is allegedly equivalent to one dose of insulin. Meanwhile, Bakmazi eases the pain of those suffering with gallstones, and it is also helpful for those with liver problems and those who have hepatitis C. 

How to Make Bakmazi

Mulberries ripen at the end of June, after which time many households keep themselves busy preparing and storing them until the end of August. 

Gathering mulberries has its own special process. First, an oil cloth is spread out below a tree, and then the tree is shaken. The first mulberries are less sweet and are put into a vessel for distilling vodka. A few days later, more mulberries are collected and used for the dried fruit rolls. Finally, two weeks after they started ripening, the mulberries are now at their sweetest and most suitable for Bakmazi. The remaining runt mulberries are then dried. 

Mulberries for Bakmazi have to be carefully shaken loose and quickly gathered, so the fruit is not damaged and the juice does not come out. Then, they are carefully washed and put into a colander, so the water drains well. Thereafter, mulberries are put into a heavy-bottomed pot and left to boil over a very low flame. After starting to boil, the tender fruit of the mulberries quickly softens. After that, they are put into a colander and left for 8-10 hours, then pressed twice in gauze so that the juice and the flesh separate and there are only a few pips left in the juice.

The pressed juice is then put over a very low flame, boiling until only half of the liquid remains. After that, the juice gradually thickens while boiling. Once it starts bubbling, the Bakmazi is ready. Once cooled, Bakmazi may be stored in a smallish glass or enamel jar and put in a cool, dry, and enclosed space.

Bakmazi can be made from either white or black mulberries, but traditionally there is more demand for the white, as it tends to be more aesthetically pleasing. You can purchase genuine Bakmazi from locals on the road to Vardzia, where people bring it to sell directly from their homes. It is also commonly found in the markets of Aspindza, Abastumani, and the city of Borjomi.

Only in this region is the Georgian New Year favorite Gozinaki made with mulberry Bakmazi. It is a truly outstanding dessert, the recipe for which is jealously guarded by the fortunate few in the know.

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