I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Γλυκό του κουταλιού

July 30, 2018 3:00 pm

Glyko tou koutaliou (spoon sweets) is a traditional sweet, which is served as a gesture of hospitality in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East. Glyko (gr. γλυκό) means sweet in Greek (root of words like glucose, glucémie a.o.) and koutali (gr. κουτάλι) means spoon. It got its name by the way it is served – usually in a small glass plate with a teaspoon, along with a glass of cold water. Glyko tou koutaliou is a thin fruit preserve made of fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sour cherry, grapes, melon, quince or even nuts, pistachio and rose. It is said that “housewives” should know how to prepare it so that they can be a good host. Glyko tou koutaliou was invented thousands of years ago and became popular after the Arabs introduced sugar to the western Mediterranean region. It was a way for people to not dispose of all the fruit and vegetables they couldn`t eat. Of course, every region in Greece has its local/traditional spoon sweet. For instance, in the island of Chios they produce grapes, figs and citrus fruits (tangerines). In the islands of Santorini and Kos, they produce almonds and cherry tomatoes with cinnamon. In the region of Pelion, they produce the famous small apples better known as firikia. Last but not least, in northern Greece they produce watermelon and zucchini. Glyko tou koutaliou is produced in many regions and countries around the world, and every country has a different name for it. In Turkey, it is called Reçel, in Bulgaria сладко (slatko), in Serbia слаткō (slatko), and in Romania dulceață. It is worth mentioning that countries from the Baltic or Eastern Europe have something similar. In Russia, it is called варенье, in Belarus варэнне/варэньне, in Ukraine варення (Varenye), in Lithuania uogienė, in Latvia ievārījums and in Estonia moos.

Glyko Vyssino/Spoon sweet sour cherry

Sour cherry spoon sweet is one of the most popular spoon sweets in Greece.
Two regions are known for their sour cherry spoon sweets: Florina in Macedonia and Arcadia in the Peloponnese.
Try the recipe:

2 ½ pounds / 1 ¼ kg sour cherries
2 ½ pounds / 1 ¼ kg sugar
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons fresh, strained lemon juice

Wash the sour cherries and drain well. Using a straw, remove the pit from each cherry, without squashing the fruit.
In a large pot, spread about one fifth of the cherries. Sprinkle about a fifth of the sugar over them. Repeat, layering cherries and sugar until both are used up. Add water. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Heat the sour cherry-sugar mixture over medium heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, add the lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sour cherries and sugar for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. During the process of simmering the cherries, skim the surface of the pot of foam and discard it. Remove the pot from the heat, let the mixture cool, and place in clean jars, filling each to about a half inch from the top.
Loosely screw the lids on each jar. Place in a clean pot with enough water to fill two-thirds of the jar’s height. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes. Using kitchen tongs, carefully remove each jar, screw its lid on extremely tightly, and flip upside down immediately. Let it stand until cool. Store in a cool, dark place.


Written by Ioannis Bersos. Ioannis was born in 1992 in Thessaloniki, Greece. He studied German Language and Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Translation at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He has worked as an academic assistant at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He participated in various academic projects within the university. He speaks Greek, German and English and he is passionate about photography. His master’s thesis was on the languages that refugees who came to Germany in 2016 and 2017 speak.

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