Saturday, May 8, 2010
Traditional Greek Lemon Sweet
A friend, who has a sweet lemon tree in her garden, gave me a large and heavy bag full of sweet lemons the other day. As they were too big to be used otherwise in the kitchen, I thought I should try and make them into a traditional Greek sweet fruit preserve, which is excellent when a 'hospitality emergency' arises, or just amazingly refreshing with Greek coffee and cold water, not to mention how wonderful it is as a dessert after a meal -tastes pretty much like 'limoncello', only without the alcohol. If you don't have large, sweet lemons, you can use bergamots or oranges in exactly the same way.
7-8 large sweet lemons, or oranges or bergamots, preferably with a thick rind
1 kilo of sugar per kilo of fruit
approx. 750ml water
a few drops of lemon juice
1. Weigh the fruit and adjust the amount of sugar that you are going to need.
2. Wash the lemons and start zesting them, using the grater. You may find this a tedious job, but do not give up! OK, you may take a rest for a few minutes...
3. Now for the somewhat tough part: Cut the lemons in quarters, and use a knife and a spoon to remove the flesh of every quarter, occasionally using your hand to feel your way between the flesh and the rind, while you're separating them. You may want to keep your eyes closed in the meantime... Place the remaining rinds (the thick skins without the zest) in a large pan.
4. Once you're done with that, pour water into the pan, enough to cover the quarters of the rinds, and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Empty the water from the pan, and let cold water run onto the rinds, which by now should be rather soft and flexible. When they're OK to touch, start tri-folding the quarters and securing each of them with a toothpick.
6. Pour cold water again, and bring to the boil, then lowering the heat and simmering for 10 minutes. Again empty the water. Repeat the simmering for a third time.
7. Remove the pieces and empty the remaining water from the pan. You will now make the syrup for the sweet. Use 750ml of water and approx. 1 kg of sugar per kilo of your fruit. Once the mixture is starting to boil, place the folded pieces of the fruit inside, and lower the heat. Simmer until the syrup starts to thicken, not forgetting to pour a few drops of lemon juice, so that the sugar does not crystallise.
8. Remove the toothpicks, and put the sweet into jars before it gets completely cold. Do not cover yet: Let them get at room temperature, cover with a cloth for about 12 hours or more and then cover with the lids.
Good luck, and enjoy!