Spoon Sweets

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Even today, households keep a variety of spoon sweets in the pantry: kydoni (quince), nerantzaki (rolled Seville orange peels), and vissyno (sour cherry) are the most popular. Whatever each region produces is turned into glyko koutaliou (spoon sweet)—tiny whole tangerines, unripe pistachios or figs, heavily scented citrus blossoms, and the petals of pink roses. Karydaki, green, unripe walnuts from the mountainous regions, require a particularly lengthy process, whereas tiny eggplant is probably the most unlikely fruit of the garden to be simmered in syrup. Cooks boast of the color, texture, and taste of these preserves, which sometimes involve complicated procedures or use unusual ingredients. Calcium chloride was added to make crunchy fruit preserves long before Ferran Adrià and other “molecular chefs” deployed the chemical in their famous spherification technique. To welcome guests, a spoonful of these colorful syrupy morsels was traditionally offered on a tiny crystal plate presented on a tray with a glass of water. There was once an entire ritual governing which spoon sweets should be offered on each occasion. At weddings, for example, the preserves should be white—citrus blossoms and lemon or citron peel—while at various joyous family celebrations multicolored cherries, tangerines, and pistachios were served. On solemn days of mourning, people who visited the house would be offered dark preserves of tiny eggplant or whole unripe walnuts, with their slightly bitter flavor. In recent years, fruit preserves have come to be used as a topping for thick yogurt.