Citrus Love with Orange Peel ‘Sweet of the Spoon’

As a child I would watch my mother baking in the kitchen, all the while waiting for her to call me over – her “little helper”. How I loved to watch my mother bake, I was amazed as she created works of art. One of my favorite desserts she would make was a sweet of the spoon, in Greece called “γλυκο του κουταλιου”, where she simmered assorted fruit peels into a delectable dessert.

Citrus Love

As a Greek tradition, it is customary to offer this luscious spoon sweet to your guest upon arriving, served alongside water and Greek coffee.  My mother carried this tradition well into my adulthood.  Today for #citruslove I am inviting you into my kitchen and passing along this beautiful tradition, serving you “Gliko Koutaliou Portokali” also known as “Orange Peel Sweet of the Spoon”.

Greek Sweet of the Spoon

Here’s what you’ll need…

Makes 2 – 12 ounce mason jars of sweet preserves

8 navel oranges

2  cups of sugar

1 1/2 cups of water

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Preparing the orange peel:

Clean by washing and brushing your oranges. Slice and remove the peel in strips, removing all of the oranges external rind using a knife or a peeler.  There’s no need to remove all the pith, keeping some of the pith adds to the flavor.  Continue to cut the orange peel rind into 1/2 inch thin strips – julienne style. (save the inside of the orange for eating, smoothie or juicing).

Preparing Orange Peels

Note: Traditionally in Greece when preserving large strips of fruit peels, like oranges, grapefruits and watermelons, it’s routine to sew and thread the fruit rinds into a circle, similar to the photo below.  I also used a skewer to speed up the process, though this leaves large holes in your fruit.

Threading Orange Peels

Place the peels in a large saucepan with enough cold water, be sure to cover about 2 inches.  The peels will naturally want to float to the top so I placed a dish atop to fully submerge them in the water. Let soak for 12 hours or overnight. You will need to pour the water out, rinse the orange peels and refill saucepan with cold water. Repeat this process approximately every 4 hours.

Drying the Orange Peels

After the peels have soaked, pour out the water, rinse the peels and refill saucepan with water.  Place saucepan on stove at medium high heat and bring to a boil, cooking for 5 minutes from when water begins to boil.  Drain and rinse the peels with cold water.  Repeat boiling and rinsing process two additional times for three minutes each time.  Rinse the orange peels and strain in colander removing excess water.

In order to remove excess moisture, place orange peels on a flat surface atop of a towel to dry anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Preparing the sweet of the spoon:

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add orange peels and allow to simmer on a low boil for 20 minutes until a syrup begins to form and thickens slightly. My mother wanted me to tell you – it should be thick like honey, enough to coat your spoon, hence sweet of the spoon.  Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, add the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, stir until combined.

The Orange Peel Sweet of the Spoon

Allow to cool completely before storing in sterilized jars.  Since I was serving this for a dinner party and gave some as party favors in small 4 ounce jars, I bypassed the canning process.

There are so many ways to serve this luscious sweet syrupy dessert – with a scone, on toast or simply by the spoonful.  Do as the Greeks do and serve it as  your first course at a dinner party.  But… this Greek got adventurous and served dessert last, graciously set atop a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream with a pistachio orange oatmeal cookie – (recipe soon to follow).  I wanted my guests blabbering sweet nothings at their departure.

Ice Cream Orange Peel Topping

I’m part of bloghop, where the food blog community connects with other blogs to share recipes and spread the love. This month, January is #citruslove month!

You’re more than welcome to join us in #citruslove fun by simply adding your recipe at the end of this bloghop!  Be sure to link back to this post, so that your readers know to stop by the #citruslove event!  The twitter hashtag is #citruslove – have Fun & OPA!

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Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose

38 thoughts on “Citrus Love with Orange Peel ‘Sweet of the Spoon’

  1. This is so interesting. I’ve made dry candied peel a few times now, but I’ve not come across this way of serving them wet & in their syrup – they look delicious.

  2. What a lovely tradition. I love learning about different cultures foods and how they are served. My most cherished memories are watching my mother cook and excited to be her helper too! I bet these taste fabulous!

  3. I just made some orange peels with the leftover orange peels from all of my citrus recipes. Now that I know how to make them, I’m going to try threading them into the curl shapes. Very pretty. Thanks for sharing your story about your childhood too!

  4. It’s lovely to hear about this Greek tradition. It would be so nice to walk in to see you and get a taste of this orange peel sweet of the spoon and have a nice strong cup of Greek coffee with you. 🙂 Yay for #citruslove

  5. So unique and fabulous!!! I’d love to make this for my mom…she’s a huge fan of candied orange peel, and this is even BETTER!!! Yum!

  6. wow georgie! i had no idea that we could cook orange peels! the preserves look delicious! 😀 i want to visit greece one day~~ sending some #citruslove to you!

  7. what an interesting post and tradition thanks for sharing it with us here on citruslove. I bet it is wonderful as an ice cream topper, beautiful photos!

  8. oh wow, I have never heard of this, but I love it! What a fun healthy sweet treat:-) It was fun hosting citruslove with you! Hugs, Terra

  9. I love cultural traditions and hand me down recipes so much. I adore this – I want to try it , I think it’s an amazing way to preserve & candy orange peel to be used in so many different applications! Even the name ‘sweet of the spoon’ makes my mouth water!

    BTW, I was going to make a ravani soaked in orange syrup from a recipe I saw in a GH mag when I was a teen. I looked for the torn out page in my file..gone 😦 Any great recipes you know of for orange ravani?

    Glad to co-host #citruslove with you!

  10. Thanks for the pictures showing how to prep the oranges, it is missing from all the other recipes I’ve seen but the most crucial bit! I was served this on yogurt in a family owned taverna on Corfu this summer and the guy was so pleased I enjoyed it – it was something his mother had made all his life and she now made it for his restaurant. Hoping I can do it justice this weekend when I make for a Greek themed dinner party.

    1. Alyson, I’m so excited you’re making this delicious sweet. It’s pretty straightforward, time consuming and worth it. It’s been years since I blogged about food, mostly the website is a photo journal these days. Enjoy and please let me know if you have any questions.

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