GLUKA KOUTALIOU – SPOON SWEETS
Spoon sweets are sweet preserves, served , as a gesture of hospitality in Greece, by the teaspoon in a small porcelain or crystal glass dish or bowl, with coffee or tea and cold water.
Most of the time they are homemade, but nowadays they can also be easily found in most supermarkets.
Whole fruit preserves can be found in most Greek and Cypriot homes. They are made by slowly and gently boiling fruit in water and sugar over several hours or days, until the syrup sets. Thus the main prerequisites to making good spoon sweets are said to be “patience and a heavy pot”.
Some lemon juice is often added to preserve the fruit’s original color, as the citric acid prevents oxidation. A small quantity of blanched almonds, slivered or whole, may also be added for crunch, often to baby eggplants, apples or grapes.
Ingredients variously added during the boiling, and then discarded, include a quill of cinnamon bark, a mint bouquet, or the green, fragrant leaves of the shrub Pelargonium odoratissimum (apple geranium) or Pelargonium graveolens (rose geranium) which add some astringency and a slight aroma of frankincense and is especially popular in the Ionian islands.
The overall method of preparation is essentially the same as that of marmalade, except that fruit pieces remain firm and whole; a well-made spoon sweet is chewy.
They can be made from almost any fruit, though sour and bitter fruits are especially prized. There are also spoon sweets produced without fruit.
They can be used as ice cream or yogurt topping, or in the Western way as a spread on toast for breakfast.
Spoon sweets are commonly eaten alone or with cheese.