Thursday, December 15, 2016

Greek quince spoon sweet

While I was in Greece this September, vacationing in the island of Evia, I got plenty of edible gifts from our neighbors there; such generous people who’d stop by with bags full of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and cucumbers from their gardens, and grapes, pomegranates and quinces from their vineyards and trees. It was wonderful having such fresh fruits and vegetables to play with. I cherished all those precious gifts and put them to good use, cooking up a storm each and every day I was there.

Returning home to Athens, I brought with me a huge bag full of quinces, and one afternoon, I spent my time in the kitchen making quince spoon-sweet with my grandmother. She was cutting, I was peeling, she was adding sugar, I was adding vanilla, and after a couple of hours, the most aromatic, bright coral-colored quince spoon-sweet was born.

Wedges of honey-sweet quince with a hint of lemon and an intoxicating aroma of the fruit and the added vanilla filled three large jars. The possibilities to enjoy them, endless. My favorites? Straight from the jar, on top of Greek sheep milk’s yoghurt, with freshly baked brioche and a side of anthotyro (or ricotta if you are not in Greece). The perfect breakfast or dessert.

PS. Scroll all the way down at the end of this post to see my photographs from the quince trees of our neighbors in Evia.

Greek quince spoon sweet

Spoon sweets are Greek preserves that are served by the spoonful in small plates or saucers. They are served usually with a strong Greek coffee to counterbalance the sweetness or a tall glass of water to quench the thirst.

Yield: 3 large jars / about 5 kg in total

1.3 kg peeled and cored quinces (about 5 large quinces)
1.3 kg caster sugar
1.2 liters water
1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1 lemon, cut in half

Special equipment: 3 large glass jars with lids

Quarter the quinces, remove the seeds and central core, and peel them. Rinse them under cold running water and place them in a large bowl filled with water. Cut each piece into a 2 cm-thick wedge.
In a large pan, add the sugar and the water, and place over a high heat. Stir with a spoon until the sugar dissolves. When it starts to boil, add the quince and the lemon. When it comes again to the boil, remove any scum that has risen to the top and add the vanilla bean.
Lower heat to medium and simmer for 1½-2 hours or until the quince are tender and they have taken on a deep coral color.
In the meantime, make sure to remove any scum that arises to the top in order to avoid a cloudy spoon sweet.

Note: If you want a thicker syrup (I prefer one that is not overly thick), you can remove the quinces from the pan when ready and then continue boiling the syrup a little while longer. Or you can add less water from the start (about 1 liter instead of 1.2).

Empty the quinces and the syrup into sterilized glass jars (read here how to sterilize them), put the lids on and turn them upside down. Allow to cool completely before turning them over. You can place them in the fridge once they cool. When you open a jar, it must stay in the fridge.

You can keep an unopened sterilized jar of this spoon sweet in a dark and cool place for up to a year. Once you open a jar, you can keep it refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Beautiful quince trees full of fruit! Island of Evia, Greece.


  1. Hi Magda! One of my favourite sweets! Could you comment on the cutting and peeling of the quince? I find it really difficult to do!

    1. Hi Alexandra. In this recipe, since you quarter them first, it's very easy to core and peel them. You can use a vegetable peeler if you prefer rather than a knife to make it easier. For the coring part, use a small, sharp knife and cut around the core to remove everything.

    2. Thanks Magda - it's certainly a very tough fruit, but worth the sweet rewards :) The last spoon sweet I made was with the mousmoula (loquats)in our garden and I can recommend that!

    3. Love mousmoula! Never made spoon sweet with them though. Got to give it a try.

  2. OK, you seem like a patient person... It took me 3 kg of fruit, and 2 hours to clean, to get 1.5 kg of flesh, because of the thick skin and large stones. My fingers turned orange and brown. But definitely worth it. Ask your grandmother to help.

  3. The color of this is so beautiful - like stained glass. And I can only imagine how wonderful it would taste. Every once in a while, we get quince at our market - I will definitely plan to make this next fall!

    1. It tastes fantastic. You must try this if you find quinces!

  4. I've always wanted to know about the spoon sweets and quince. . .a fabulous post!