Marmalades and spoon sweets are a very old fabrication of women in an attempt to preserve the plethora of seasonal fruits for a long time. When we grow up and put all these details together, we give a special value to these tricks of the housewives. When we boil the fruit, there is something that remains from the value it had when it was fresh; the tannins (colour) do remain after all, which constrain the free radicals and shield us from toxic substances.
Living in Greece, I know that each season has its own fruits and by being in contact with people from the rural world, I am well aware that there is an abundance of them – since many people have their own tree in their garden – which we tend to hand out to others.
Some relatives may have a large production of peaches, for example, and they send you one or two crates as a present. And in case you do not consume them in time, there is nothing easier than to make the loveliest sweet, with a good deal of sugar of course; a sweet that goes well with a lot of things and can be used in a number of recipes, from marmalades to spoon sweets. We need fruit for both of them – very ripe for the first and very unripe for the second – sugar and a little lemon.
The story of marmalade begins with the quince. Quinces travelled to our country from the region of Caucasus. And since the climate here is temperate as well, they thrived. Ancient Greek women boiled the quinces with honey or grape juice (petimezi) and made a very thick pulp called “melimilon”. Honey (meli) and apple (milo) because they described quinces like big green apples. Their journey continued to the Mediterranean area as they arrived to Portugal where the word “quince” was translated as marmelo. It is there that the word marmalade was heard for the first time and then the Scottish started using it to refer to the citrus marmalade. However, as far as spoon sweets are concerned, I think we are unique because we do not encounter them elsewhere.
So if we want to make a spoon sweet of citrus fruits, we start by making the fruits less bitter and then boil them and add some sugar. If we want a watermelon or a zucchini spoon sweet, whose peels are thicker, we put the peels in whitewash first to make them firm and white in order to maintain them crisp after the boiling. If the fruits we have are fleshy we have to boil them very quickly so they don’t get oxidized and the sweet gets spoiled.
All the spoon sweets recipes are a legacy of our grandmothers and mothers, making our life sweeter. And most of us remember the pride in our mothers’ faces as they treated their guests with their successful spoon sweet dessert made of sour cherries, cherries, unripe walnuts and everything else you can imagine. I, personally, try to make marmalades from seasonal fruits such as Mirabelle plums, cherries and sour cherries. When it comes to spoon sweets though, my favorite ones are zucchini, watermelon and unripe walnut ones. However any fruit can be turned into one of the above types of sweets. They are so many that I can’t decide which marmalade recipe to give you. But, since it’s autumn, I have chosen to give you a recipe based on a fruit belonging to this season.
- 1 kg of Kiwis
- 800 grams of sugar
- 3-4 drops of lemon
- a vanilla stick
Clean and mash the kiwis. In a pot, put the fruit paste with the sugar and a cup of water. Add the vanilla stick and bring to a boil. When foam appears on top, remove it if you want with a wooden spoon so that it doesn’t affect the result of the marmalade. When it starts to thicken, stir continuously. You don’t want it to stick in the bottom of the pot. In the last five minutes of boiling, add the lemon drops and pour the marmalade in sterile jars while it’s still hot. Seal it with the lid and store it in a cupboard.
Little secrets and tips.
– If we want light-coloured sweets, we boil them in high temperature to make the mixture thicken quickly.
– We avoid to stir often so that our sweets do not crystallize and the fruits aren’t broken.
– Always use a wooden spoon as it does not cause the temperature to drop in our pot.
– For a better consistency of the syrup and a more fixed colour of the fruit without further processing of the fruits, when they are ready stop the boiling abruptly. To do that, put the the warm pot in a basin with cold water.
– Never cover the pot because the fruits will get darker and it will take longer to boil them.
– If the sugar of the sweet crystallizes, do not throw it away, it hasn’t gone bad. Either boil it again with some water or put the jar in warm water for a while.
– The syrup must cover the sweet in the jar, otherwise the sugar will crystallize
– When opened, the jar is kept in the fridge for a long time.
– When we add nuts, such as almonds for example, they had better be completely dry, so that they do not go brown with mould. That’s why we bake them in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
These kinds of sweets are used in many recipes such as pasta floras, cheesecakes and cakes in general. For the jams we use the quantity and the kind of sugar we want; black, white, stevia and so on.
For the spoon sweets, I allow the tradition to go on: from grandmother to mother and from mother to daughter. Good Luck.