How Did the Ancient Greeks Sweeten Their Foods?

Grapes were often-used ancient Greek sweeteners.
... Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The ancient Greeks had broad diets made up of everything from the flesh of geese to basic bread. What they didn't have, however, was cane sugar. It simply hadn't been discovered yet. The ancient Greeks handily made up for that by sweetening their foods through a variety of other natural sources.

1 Honey as a Sweetener

Ancient Greeks added sweetness to their foods through a handful of different components, the primary one being honey. Honey was a vital crop to the ancient Greeks. They maintained colonies for honeybees in hives constructed out of reeds and wood. They sometimes employed clay to make these hives. Honey was a prominent sweetening agent not only in Greece, but also in other ancient civilizations, including Egypt.

2 Boiled Grape Must Juice

Honey wasn't the sole sweetener available in ancient Greece. Grape must juice -- in boiled form -- frequently added sweetness to foods as well. "Must" is a pressed juice that includes not only liquid, but also seeds and skins. After observing this sweetening practice in the ancient Greeks, the Romans adopted it.

3 Dried Fruit

The ancient Greeks regularly ate dried fruit as a snack or dessert. They also frequently employed it for sweetening purposes. Dried figs, apricots and raisins all served as a relatively easy and quick way of giving food some pleasantly sweet flavoring.

4 Sweet Dessert Options

While the ancient Greeks enjoyed a lot of naturally sweet foods for dessert, they also used their various sweeteners to create new concoctions. Pomegranates and apples weren't the only sweet delights available at the dessert table. The ancient Greeks frequently prepared fruit, sweet breads and honey cakes, for example. Honey cakes were produced using honey, nuts and sesame seeds. Fruit was a common side dish for the cakes.

5 Sweeteners in Beverages

Sweeteners in ancient Greece weren't only necessary for foods, but also for some beverages. Honey was often used to give wine a touch of sweetness. The ancient Greeks also made a type of nectar out of honey, using flowers.