Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Make Koliva Memorial Wheat

If you've never shared Koliva in memory of a loved one, this is a special treat with symbolic meaning. (Seems like most traditional Church foods have symbolic meanings!) Wheat kernels must fall to the ground and die in order to create new life (Gospel of St. John 12:24), just as our souls and bodies must come to an end of our earthly sojourn in order to pass into new life in eternity.

 2 cups of wheat berries (the "soft" ones cook faster; can usually find these from health food store)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. white raisins (or whatever dried fruits you prefer)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)

1 cup finely ground zweiback toasts (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
dragees or more nuts/ raisens for decoration

Day 1. Cover and soak berries overnight.

Day 2. Drain & rinse. Cover with water in large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 1-3 hours, until puffy and tender (keep covered with water and stir occasionally).

Drain in a colander; rinse and drain again. Spread the wheat our on a smooth dish towel to dry overnight.

Day 3. Light a candle and pray. Mix all ingredients. You may decide to bring the mix to church to assemble. One time, when I arrived, another dear sister in Christ added a Lebanese spice and I wish I could tell you what it was - maybe star anise?  In any case, put combined mixture on a tray that has been covered with wax paper.

Heap in a mound toward center and press to make smooth.

To top it: Either just sift on 1 cup of powdered sugar, or first sprinkly with 1 cup of finely ground zweiback toast and then with sugar. (the zweiback keep the sugar from absorbing and disappearing into the wheat).

Make a cross in the center with koufeta, dragees, nuts, raisens, whatever.

                        (This is Carol's Koliva)

May Their Memory Be Eternal!

(from the 2008 archives - I think it's worth sharing again)


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I've saved it so that I can make it some time.

  2. Yes, anonymous, you could mix these ingredients for a healthy snack. When made with prayers for loved ones and blessed by a priest, the Koliva becomes a special thing, a blessed thing that one treats as special. For instance, we wouldn't throw leftovers in the garbage as that would be disrespectful. However, I've often thought the ingredients as a mix are indeed a healthy treat.