Carefully and meticulously strung walnuts, dipped into gooey and thick grape molasses, this sweet sujukh is confection essential for Christmas and New Year festive table.
God knows how many autumns ago the custom of making Sharan, Armenian sweet sujukh, started in the Armenia highlands; how many iterations of these edible festoons were created; how many unwritten inviolable recipes have been passed down from generation to generation for us to enjoy this ancient confection.
Sharani was one of the traditional sweets for the New Year’s festivity table. In old times people gifted each other with sharani as a token of fruitfulness and luck, wishing each other a prosperous spring and summer.
What is the origin of sharan?
From very early on, Armenians had developed a process of preserving, conserving, and using the prolific fruits that grew in abundance in the summertime but are so desperately needed in winter.
Preservation using fruit molasses has a long history in various regions of Armenia.
The stings of sweet sujukh hanging in the porches, in the vender’s stall is a scene you will observe starting late summer through fall in Armenian villages. The farmer’s market carry them whole year round and they are one of the most popular edible souvenirs.
What is grape molasses?
The grape and mulberry molasses also known as doshab were concentrated fruit juice cooked in big vessels on an open fire and stirred with big wooden paddles for hours. Then it comes to the process of deacidification of the doshab. This is when they add special soil, previously baked, and cooked down to the grape concentrate.
Ashtarak soil in Armenia is known to be one of the best soil types.
The earth and fruit juice mixture is cooked and stirred constantly for a day; after which the sediment settles on the bottom, allowing the clear and shiny golden molasses to rise on top. Strained and clarified, the final golden molasses are used for making doshab. The natural sugars in fruit act as preservatives and provide unique flavors.
From this thickened and clarified grape molasses you make shpot that is used to coat the walnut strings.
Ingredients for Sweet Sujukh Recipe
- Walnuts: For sharan use the walnut kernels either half or quarters. Anything smaller will break and not be suitable for stringing.
- Grape molasses: Grape molasses are sold in Armenian or Middle Eastern stores. They come in a bottle or a jar. You can also use grape juice (see notes in substitutions sections).
- Wheat flour: Flour is used to thicken the sauce and wheat flour keeps it more pliable, and less dense. All-purpose flour might make the coating more rubbery.
- Spices (cardamom, clove, cinnamon): Spices are optional; a little will go a long way. They just give an undertone of flavors.
- You can substitute grape molasses with a combination of grape juice and sugar cooked to syrup consistency.
- Frozen grape juice concentrate is also an option and it will require less sugar.
Special Tools to Use:
- Cotton thread and needle
- Hooks for hanging
- Station for hanging and drying (I use a towel rack)
30-45 minutes of active time.
60 minutes drying time in between coating
2-5 days air drying time
How to Make Sharotc -Sweet Sujukh?
String the Walnuts
Using cotton thread and needle, string the walnut halves one at a time, being careful not to break them. To make the stringing process easier, give the walnuts a quick rinse, which will soften them and make them less brittle.
Make the strands of walnuts 40-50 cm (10-20 inches) long. Secure an end with a big nut and make a loop on the top for the hook.
Hang the walnut strands to dry for a few days.
Making Shpot Sauce
When you are ready to make the sharani, in a big pot bring the grape molasses and water to a boil.
Separately mix the flour and cold water together and make a slurry without lumps. Additionally, passing through a strainer will ensure a smooth texture.
Gradually pour the creamy slurry into the boiling molasses mixture and stir constantly. Lower the heat and continue stirring until the mixtures start bubbling.
Add the spice mix.
Dipping the Walnut Strings
Holding from the top loop, carefully dip the walnut strands into a hot shpot and completely submerge them into the saucy liquid. Use a wooden spatula to aid in submerging.
Once the walnuts are completely coated, pull them out and hang them to dry. Prop a plate, tray, or piece of board to catch drips.
Let them dry for an hour and repeat the process. If shpot has thickened, add a little bit of boiling water, and bring the mixture to a boil before.
The Best Way to Serve Sharan Sweet Sujukh
Cut the end knot off and gently slide off the sharani from the string. Cut the “sausage” at an angle into ½ inch (1 cm) slices. You should see the walnut encased in sweet grape molasses.
You can mix cut sharani with other dried fruits, or arrange it on a sweet charcuterie board, with fresh and dried fruits, and nuts.
Tips and wisdom
- Separate walnut halves and quarters from the rest. You will be using only those for sharani.
- Give the walnuts a 30-second rinse. This will remove any dusty residue that packaged walnuts may contain, it also softens the walnuts making them less brittle.
- Have the thread and needle ready.
- Prepare the station to hang the walnut strands.
- Hang the walnut strands to dry for a few days so there is no unnecessary moisture left. This will ensure the sharani won’t get moldy.
- Have everything ready before starting to dip the walnut strands into shpot.
- Dip while the shpot is hot.
- For the second coat, heat the shpot and add a little bit of boiling water to thin it out.
- Don’t let the first coat dry too much. No more than two hours.
- Don’t dip the second coat too soon. Give it a test, it should fill tacky, not sticky.
- Let the sharani completely dry for 5-10 days before storing.
Sharotc Sharani -Walnut string -Sweet Sausage
- 500 gram walnut
- 3 cups molasses grape
- 2 cup water
- 350 gram flour
- 1 gram clove
- 1 gram cinnamon
- 1 gram cardamom
String the Walnuts
- Using cotton thread and needle string the walnut halves one at a time. Make the strands of walnuts 40-50 cm (10-20 inches) long. Secure an end with a big knot and make a loop on the top for the hook.
- Hang the walnut strands to dry for a few days.
Make shpot sauce
- In a big non-reactive pot combine the grape molasses and water and bring to a boil.
- Separately mix the flour and cold water together and make a slurry. Run through a mash strainer to remove any lumps.
- Gradually pour the creamy slurry into the boiling molasses mixture and stir constantly. Lower the heat and continue stirring until the mixtures start bubbling.
- Add the ground spices if using.
Dipping the walnut strings
- Holding from the top loop, carefully dip the walnut strands into a hot shpot and completely submerge them into the saucy liquid. Push down with a wooden spatula to ensure that all walnuts are coated with molasses.
- Once the walnuts are completely coated, pull them out and hang them to dry. Prop a plate, tray, or piece of board to catch drips.
- Let them dry for an hour and repeat the process. If shpot has thickened, add a little bit of boiling water, and bring the mixture to a boil before dipping the second time.
- Hang the stings to dry for a few days.
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