Moskonfyt – a little history and a recipe

Moskonfyt – a little history and a recipe

All who attended the Harvest day went home with a little jar of moskonfyt from the 2010 vintage. Here is a little information on this traditional product and a recipe for you to try out from our restaurant.

Moskonfyt, or grape must jam, has been made since the days of the beginning of the old Cape. Quite logically, it started being produced as soon as the cape started producing grapes. Grape must is the mixture of pressed grape juice, skins seeds and pulp. This mixture is reduced down until it has the consistency of light syrup.

The reduction of grape must goes as far back Ancient Rome when it was commonly used as a cooking ingredient. It was boiled down in lead or bronze kettles into a milder concentrate called defrutum or a stronger concentrate called sapa. It was often used as a souring agent and preservative, especially in fruit dishes.  To quote form Wikipedia,

Pliny the Elder recommended that defrutum only be boiled at the time of the new moon, while Cato the Censor suggested that only the sweetest possible must should be used. Both writers advised against the use of bronze or copper kettles, as the metals would react with the acids in the defrutum and give the finished product an unpleasant metallic taste. The preferred vessels for boiling and storing defrutum were made of (or lined with) lead, which leached lead acetate crystals into the must when it was boiled, progressively sweetening the mix.” There is an argument to suggest that the continued indigestion of small amounts of lead, which leads to infertility and high infant-mortality, was one of the main causes in the decline of Rome.

You can all rest assured that not a bit of lead came anywhere our mosconfyt.

The South African version is, as the name suggests, more like a jam and can be used in a variety of ways.

  • The easiest, and possibly most tasty it to smear it over home-cooked bread straight out of the ovem.
  • French Toast with Moskonfyt!
  • Smoorsnoek with moskonfyt on rice is a typical Cape Malay dish.
  • The sweet and at the same time slightly acidic flavour complements most fish.
  • Try moskonfyt with sweet potatoes or use it as a base for crème brûlee.

Here is a recipe provided from our Restaurant.

Frozen Van der Hum & ‘Moskonfyt’ Bombe


500ml whipping cream

¾ tin sweetened condesnsed milk

60 ml moskonfyt

60 ml

Melted dark chocolate, for decorating


1.   Whip cream until it forms soft peaks.

2.   Add the condensed mil and whip for another 30 seconds

3.    Stir in the moskonfyt and Van der Hum and pour the mixture into a bowl, which has been lined with clingfilm.

(this helps the unmoulding).

4.Cover with additional cling wrap and freeze for 6 hours, or overnight.

5. Just before serving, unmould the bombe on to a serving platter, remove cling wrap and pour melted, cooled chocolate over the top, allowing it to run down the sides in little streams.

6. Serve wedges with your favorite biscuit…maybe a thin orange wafer style, or even a brandy tuille. Can garnish with some chocolate shavings/pencils and berries.

Serves 6


  • Peter von Pentz
    Posted at 23:16h, 17 April Reply

    Hi Harry, I enjoyed your informative article on Moskonfyt. It’s somewhat frustrating reading pieces where the writers toss the uses of moskonfyt about with aplomb as if were readily availalable as marmalade. Backsberg no doubt makes it for the special few. I know very few South Africans who have access to it (those who even know of its existence). South African Dried Co. used to make it. Jam Factory in Wellington in small batches and Backsberg, I guess.

    It makes a wonderful glaze as a reduction with sherry vinegar over pears and over duck, as well a different twist on Monkey gland steak.

    Question, do you use citric acid or slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) in you production? I want to make mine here in Pennsylvania. Closest to moskonfyt is a grape molasses I can get sporadically from a Lebanon producer.

    Will register on the site for more of your articles. Always enjoyed the offerings of Mr. Back over the years.

  • Liezl Merifield
    Posted at 16:52h, 15 February Reply

    Just finished making some moskonfyt. Took me from 8:00 till 16:00 (15/2/2012). Used about 16 litres of ‘juice’ from our grapes to make 7 x 250ml bottles of moskonfyt. Did it last year too… long day and lots of stirring…but I’ll do it again. Our grapes are not that sweet and the kids don’t really like the pips and hard skins…so unless I make moskonfyt with our grapes, the monkeys and birds have a feast on their own. Now we can feast with moskonfyt over our ice-cream. Nice to serve for guests visiting the farm.

    • TRUDIE
      Posted at 18:21h, 06 May Reply

      HI LIEZL,

      • Simon Back
        Posted at 11:55h, 07 May Reply

        I am going to email Liesl, and ask her to email you the recipe. Thanks, Simon

  • Ivor Randall
    Posted at 21:05h, 22 February Reply

    Slaked lime appears to work well. Nanaga fruit stall in the Eastern Cape make probably the best moskonfyt in the country. My wife and I amde our first batch of catawba grape moskonfyt last night. we will provide the recipe and results next week ( if it worked out well. lol).

  • tanya
    Posted at 08:27h, 30 March Reply

    Nanaga does indeed have some of the best home made goods in the country! Liezl and Ivor I look forward to hearing how your moskonfyt turned out!

  • Peter von Pentz
    Posted at 17:12h, 13 June Reply

    Catawba grape moskonfyt, Ivor? And I thought it was only made from white table grapes (Hanepoot). How did it turn out. Hopefully it went well, as there is no recipe and results report back. Would try catawaba if it works.

    I read that one can use citric acid instead of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) as a preservative in moskonfyt making.

  • Olivia
    Posted at 23:31h, 16 November Reply

    I just bought a jar from worcester museum farm and have no idea what to do with it!

  • Sue Botha
    Posted at 08:48h, 13 February Reply

    Hi Simon I would be MOST grateful if you would ask Liezl to share her moskonfyt recipe with me as well. My grapes are ready and going to ruin PLEEEEZE thank you so much, Sue

  • Sue Botha
    Posted at 08:49h, 13 February Reply

    My Email adress is

  • Sue Botha
    Posted at 11:21h, 16 February Reply

    Hi Liezl I am desperately looking for the moskonfyt recipe made with the catawba grape. My grapes are ready and would be most grateful if you would please share your recipe with me, my email add is Thank you so much. Sue Botha

  • anita koogje
    Posted at 13:30h, 18 March Reply


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