Glyko tou koutaliou, or Greek spoon sweets (literally, ‘sweet of the spoon’) are a traditional preserve that’s commonly served as a sweet snack or dessert to houseguests and costumers at old-school kafeneio and taverna. It can be made from different types of fruits, but this recipe below uses orange peels.
In Greece, you’ll find some of the tastiest oranges in the world, so it’s no surprise that very little of this delicious fruit is wasted. After you’ve peeled an orange to eat, or juice, there is still use for the rest of it! The zest, which is removed for this recipe below, is great in salads, baked goods or to flavour oils, vinegars, sugar, or herb mixtures with, but the rest of the pith can be cooked in a simple homemade sugar syrup until bright, translucent and deliciously soft and sweet. It’s a great way to make use of the entire fruit and preserve some of those delicious seasonal oranges for a later time. These spoon sweets also make for a great homemade gift for friends and family, if you ask me.
Glyko tou Koutaliou Portokali / Γλυκό του Κουταλιού Πορτοκάλι (Greek Orange Spoon Sweet)
- 4 medium oranges
- 300g white granulated sugar
- 400ml water
- 2 tablespoons honey (you can leave this out if you want to make a vegan version)
- cinnamon stick
- cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Remove zest from the oranges with a vegetable peeler, then cut oranges into 8 pieces (top to bottom) and remove the peel/pith by sliding a knife between the orange pulp and pith. You will only need the pieces of pith so eat the rest of the fruit or use in a salad.
- If you like, roll up the pieces of pith and secure them with a toothpick for a nice curled up look (but you don’t have to).
- Add pieces of pith to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and boil for 5 minutes (counting from when the water starts boiling each time).
- Drain pieces of pith in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Repeat the simmering and rinsing process two more times.
- After the final rinse, lay out pieces and allow liquid to drain off.
- Add sugar and water to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble nicely.
- Add drained pieces of pith, honey, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods to the same saucepan and allow to return to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for about 30 - 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until the syrup has reduced at least halfway and thickened slightly (you will need enough syrup to store the spoon sweets and the liquid will thicken slightly more once cooled, so keep that in mind).
- Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow sweets to cool in the syrup.
- Remove toothpicks once cool (if you used any) and store peels and syrup in a sterilised jar.