When I was a little girl, I had a babysitter named Barbara. She fell in love with a Greek musician called Costa who used to feed me and my little brother a style of preserved fruit originating from the Byzantine kitchen that is traditionally served as a gesture of hospitality in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans, usually on special occasions such as a wedding, a birthday celebration – or, sometimes, whilst babysitting a curious girl with a taste for the exotic. This jammy delight is known as a spoon sweet because it is served on a spoon, obvs, alongside a glass of water. Costa used them a ploy to win our hearts; he had worked out that, if we loved him, then Barbara would love him too. I’m glad to say that his trickery worked, they did fall in love and now there are now several handsome ‘Costaras‘ gracing this world. The difference between a spoon sweet and jam is that the pieces of fruit are cut large and cooked gently so that they remain whole. As summer fades, I’ve eschewed jamming in favour of making a several jars of spoon fruit each featuring a different flavour so I can dip into them throughout the winter months. For my first jar, I picked up a bag of slightly unripe white peaches and preserved them with a splash of orange blossom water to add a beautiful floral note. To my collection, I intend to add spiced quince, pumpkin and apple flavours and, when winter comes, I will preserve Seville oranges, lemon rind and grapefruit. When you have built your library of flavours, serve them together on a platter to the people you love – or to the people you intend to love; or, spread liberally on a thick slice of hot buttery sourdough; or alongside thick tart greek yoghurt with a garnish of chopped pistachios and crushed rose petals.
4 large white peaches (mine were exactly 650g in weight), skinned and cut into quarters
650g of unrefined granulated sugar (use the same weight of sugar as fruit)
250ml of water
Juice of half a lemon
Half tsp of orange blossom water
How I make it
In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, add the sugar and water. Bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat, add the peach segments and gently simmer for 35-45 minutes until you’ve achieved your desired consistency.
Take off the heat and allow the preserve to settle for a few minutes before adding the lemon juice and orange blossom water.
Pour into sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge.