Preserved Fruits in Sugar Syrup

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

Falling Cloudberries

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2004

  • About

These are something that many Cypriot and Greek people have in their fridge and offer to visitors with a glass of ice-cold water or a coffee. They are eaten straight off the spoon and some people like to then stir their syrupy spoon into their glass of water. You can preserve almost any small fruits with this recipe: baby clementines, tiny eggplants (aubergines), green walnuts, bergamo or figs and keep them in the fridge. These are normally extremely sweet — I have used slightly less sugar but you can add more if you prefer.

Ingredients

Preserved Orange Peel

  • 10 oranges (about 2 kg/4 lb 8 oz)
  • 375 g (1⅔ cups) caster (superfine) sugar

Preserved Cherries

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) cherries
  • 300 g (10½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preserved Green Plums

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) small green plums
  • 300 g (10½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 long strip orange rind, plus the juice of 1 orange
  • 1 bay leaf

Figs in Syrup

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) naturally dried figs or 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) fresh figs
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brandy

Method

Preserved Orange Peel

Rinse the oranges in warm water. Peel off the skin with a good potato peeler, trying not to press too hard so that you leave behind the white pith and remove only the outer orange peel. Do this lengthways or around the circumference, whichever way works best for you. If lengthways, you should get six or seven strips. Around the circumference you should get about three long strips: halve these so you have pieces about 9 cm ( inches) long. If there is a lot of pith on the strips, put them on a wooden board, pith side up, and run a small sharp knife along each strip to remove the white pith. You should be left with about 200 g (7 oz) of peel.

Boil the orange peel in water for about 15 minutes until softened, then drain. Roll up each piece of peel fairly tightly and thread onto a length of cotton with a needle, as if you were stringing a necklace together (this will help the peel hold its shape in the syrup).

Put the sugar in a saucepan with 450 ml (16 fl oz) water and the juice of one of the oranges and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, drop in the orange peel necklace and cover the surface with a piece of baking paper to hold the peel in the syrup. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes, then remove the peel and take it off the thread. Put the peel in a suitable preserving jar.

The syrup should have thickened during cooking, if not cook it for slightly longer. Pour the syrup over the peel (it should just cover it). When cool, refrigerate, ensuring the peel is covered by the syrup, and use within a month.

Preserved Cherries

Pit the cherries carefully with a thin pitter and then rinse them. Put the sugar, lemon juice and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cherries and, when they come to the boil, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper to keep them submerged. Simmer gently for 6–8 minutes, turning them now and then to make sure they are covered. Remove the pan from the heat (the cherries must not be too soft). Using a slotted spoon, spoon the cherries into a suitable preserving jar.

Continue boiling the syrup for about 10 minutes or until it has reduced by half. Strain through muslin over the cherries and seal the jar when cool. The cherries should always be covered by syrup. These are normally served straight from the fridge, with a spoon and small plate and a glass of iced water to cut through their beautiful over-sweetness. Use within a month.

Preserved Green Plums

The green plums look nice served whole, so leave the stones in and spit them out as you go. If you would prefer them to be pitted beforehand, make a small slit and remove the stone.

Rinse the plums. Put the sugar, orange rind, juice and bay leaf in a saucepan with about 1 litre (4 cups) of water and bring to the boil. Add the plums and, when the syrup comes back to the boil, lower the heat and cover with a piece of greaseproof paper to keep the plums submerged. Simmer gently for 8–10 minutes, turning them now and then to make sure they are all covered.

Remove from the heat (the plums must not be too soft). Using a slotted spoon, spoon the plums into a suitable preserving jar. Leave the syrup to boil for about 12–15 minutes until it has reduced by about two-thirds. Pour over the plums and seal when cool. The plums should always be covered by syrup. Keep in the fridge and use within a month.

Figs in Syrup

If you are using dried figs, soak them in warm water for at least a couple of hours, then drain.

Put the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla bean and 625 ml ( cups) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Add the figs, lower the heat and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Remove the softened figs with a slotted spoon to a plate. If your syrup is still very watery and pale, boil it until it has thickened a little.

Put the figs into a suitable preserving jar. Let the syrup cool and then pour it over the figs in the jar. Pour the rum or brandy over the top. Top with a circle of greaseproof paper (or a preserving paper disc), pushing down on the figs to keep them submerged in the syrup, and seal the jars tightly. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within a month. These are particularly delicious served with thick cream.