Saturday 20 November 2010

quince spoon sweets

Spoon sweets are wonderful morsels of jammy goodness served all over the Balkans, Middle East and parts of Russia.

In the old days a woman’s variety of spoon sweets was a sign of her hospitality, something sweet and delicious to serve her guests while they drank tea.

Most usually spoon sweets are made from fruit, with bitter and sour varieties being the most prized. I suppose that’s because it took a lot more sugar to get them tasting good, and sugar was an expensive commodity.

Common spoon sweets include seedless grapes, bergamot, sour cherries, kumquats, pomegranate, figs, green walnuts, watermelon rind, cherry tomatoes, eggplant and rose petal.

And of course, quince.

The traditional way to serve them is to the preserve is packed onto small teaspoons and served in porcelain or crystal dishes with coffee and tea.

These days they have other uses too, such as ice cream topping, on bread or as an accompaniment to cheese.

Luckily for me, my quince spoon sweet (based on Greek recipes) turned out perfectly chewy and aromatic, the elegant flavour of quince taking centre stage.

Highly recommended to just eat from the spoon, but I use it for cheese boards and as a breakfast jam too.

Kythoni Xysto (Quince Spoon Sweets)

Anna’s recipe based on this and this.

4 quinces
3 cups water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 strips lemon peel
4 cups sugar
1 cinnamon quill
3 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted (optional)


1. Wash quinces and scrub off brown fuzz.

2. Bring the water to a boil.

3. Grate, with peel still on, discarding the cores.

4. Add grated quince, lemon peel and juice to boiling water. Return to boil.

5. Reduce heat and simmer until the quince is soft (10-20 minutes).

6. Turn heat to high, add sugar, dissolve and bring to a boil.

7. Lower heat to medium and simmer rapidly until jam deepens in colour and firms to jelly when drizzled on a cold saucer (about 40 minutes).

8. If using almonds, stir in now and boil 1 minute longer.

9. Ladle into sterilised jars and seal.

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