All About Glyko – Greek Spoon Sweets

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Citrus (orange) jamOne thing I have learned about Greek cooking is that it certainly isn’t wasteful. A few years ago, my dad recalled something that his aunt would make. When peeling oranges, she would do so carefully and neatly and reserve the peels in a little dish in the refrigerator. Once she had enough peels, she would whip up a batch of her famous “pergamonto glyko”, a special kind of preserve that is traditionally eaten in Greece.

Like most methods of preservation, these have their roots before refrigeration, when they were essential to preventing waste. Once the method is mastered, you can actually use any fruit you desire. In older recipes, honey is used. However, more recent methods of making these spoon sweets have come into favor using standard cane sugar. If you decide to make it yourself and want to go the traditional routine, stick with using honey – traditional Greek honey if you can find it. Here’s a simple method:

  • fig jamWash, peel, and cut any fruit you want to use. If using orange peels, let them dry for a few hours on the counter before washing.
  • Chop or mash the fruit gently to release some of the juices. Add the fruit to a saucepan with half the amount of honey and a squeeze of lemon juice and a little water. For each cup of fruit or orange peel, you’ll want to use 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup water.
  • At this stage, you can also add other ingredients such as spices like cinnamon or even anise.
  • Let the fruit mixture simmer on low heat for at least 3o minutes, stirring constantly. You’ll want to monitor the fruit preserves closely to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the fruit is cooked down enough, shut the heat off and let the mixture stand for a few minutes before placing it in a sterilized jar.

If you were to peruse recipes, you’ll notice that they’re all different. On the one hand, making these spoon sweets is fairly easy. On the other, they are often a chance for a cook to display her cooking prowess while also having something on hand to share with guests when they visit. In Greece, there is a big tradition of hospitality, and guests are always given refreshment during their visit. The hostess will usually bring out a tray filled with spoon sweets and a tall glass of cool water. Be sure to sample every flavor that is put in front of you, and to show her that you enjoyed her gesture of hospitality.

cherry jamSpoon sweets offer a way to extend your hospitality while also giving you a chance to show people how prosperous you are. If you can offer your guests multiple types, this means that your harvest for the year was good. Everyone who makes these takes pride in their own special recipes, and is often reluctant to share their secrets. When you begin making them, follow the basic recipe until you’re comfortable with it, and then start personalizing it and making it your own with each batch you make. This is the real magic of the traditional “glyko” that are found throughout Greece!

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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