The delicious age-old tradition in Greece and Cyprus of offering “Spoon Sweets” to visitors goes way back to the fourteenth century when the Byzantines adopted the custom from Arab traders.
I love making this Glyko because it reminds me of my mum. It’s an unusual and attractive preserve made using beautiful slim baby aubergines.
Aubergines are great at soaking up flavours. Make sure they are not too big or fat and they are firm enough when buying them.
1 kilo firm baby aubergines (13cm / 5 inch) round or long
4 tbsp pickling lime (Ξινό)
A handful of blanched and toasted almonds
A few cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
570ml (1 pint) water
A few drops of red food colouring
Juice of 2 lemons
You can leave the stem on the aubergines or remove them – just cut them if too long – and with a vegetable peeler, carefully remove the skin from the stem side. With a small pointed knife, make a small slit in the middle of each aubergine.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and dissolve the pickling lime. Put the aubergines in the water and let them soak for about 2 hours – this will help them to firm up and stay crispy. Put something heavy on top to keep them submerged so they don’t float.
Drain the aubergines, wash them well a few times and then put them in a preserving pan, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for 3-4 minutes and drain. Repeat once more to remove any bitterness, drain and place in a strainer, leaving them drain for 30 minutes or longer.
Gently squeeze the aubergines and insert an almond in the slit you made before. Layer the aubergines in a large preserving pan with the sugar, cloves and cinnamon sticks, add the water and the juice of 1 lemon. Leave them soaking for 1 hour until the sugar has dissolved.
Place the pan on the heat, bring it to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and let the aubergines soak in the syrup for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Next add the red food colouring, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until syrup has set – it should reach 105 degrees celcius on a sugar thermometer – and add the rest of the lemon juice.
Let the glyka cool a little, put them in tall sterilised jars and cover with the syrup. Store in a cardboard or a dark place. They should keep for a year.
Serve with a glass of cold water.
Στην υγειά μας!