Spoon sweets are traditional fruit preserves, very popular throughout Greece. They can be made with citrus fruits, sour cherries, grapes, quinces or even tomatoes, small eggplants and rose petals and they are served in tiny crystal bowls with tiny spoons together with a cup of traditional coffee and a glass of cold water as a gesture of hospitality.
Spoon sweets held and hold a prominent role in our lives and their preparation is still considered a special and significant branch of the local culinary art. Their importance is underlined by the fact that many references and stories are found in Greek literature and poetry, related to their special characteristics and their preparation.
Our favorite spoon sweets are those prepared with the peel of citrus fruits, such as bergamot oranges, because they have a fantastic smell, they are chewy and they can be served in many different ways and combinations.
- 7-8 medium size bergamot oranges
- 1 cup water
- juice of half a lemon
- Wash thoroughly the bergamots, wipe them and remove their zest with a fine grater. Zest is very aromatic and I keep it in a jar in the freezer to flavored cakes, creams etc.
- With a sharp knife peel them and cut the peels in thin slices, 1 cm thick. Then weigh the peels. This is a very important step, since the weight of sugar that will be used is equal with the weight of your peels. Mine were about 600 grams, so I used 600 grams of sugar.
- Put the peels in a large bowl with water for 24 hours. Every six hours change the water. This step is necessary in order to wash out the bitter substances found in the peel.
- Drain the peels. In a saucepan pour the sugar with the water to boil. Add the bergamot peels, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir a couple of times in between, turn off the heat and let them set for 12-24 hours. The next day simmer again until the syrup thickens. The syrup consistency may be a challenge, but here are some tips: The syrup is almost ready when the bubbles formed on the surface of the pot have started become denser, almost like foam. To make sure it is ready, pour a drop of syrup on a plate, leave it for one minute to cool and then turn the plate vertically and watch the syrup consistency. It must be thick, almost like honey. But if you want to be on the safe side you can also use a kitchen thermometer. I have found that my spoon sweets are great when their boiling temperature reaches 105-106 oC.
- Pour the lemon juice, stir and remove from heat. This step is necessary because lemon prevents sugar from forming crystals.
- Transfer while hot in sterilized airtight glass container and turn them upside down until cool. This way the fruit will be preserved for several months. Once a jar is opened, keep in the refrigerator.