Lemon Spoon Sweets
Spoon sweets are made with fruit and vegetables, cooked with sugar to create a syrup. A traditional offering to guests, spoon sweets can also be used as dessert sauces and condiments.
12 medium thick-skinned lemons, preferably organic
Sugar to equal 3/4 of the weight of the fruit, about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
1. Begin this preparation in the morning. Using a kitchen scrub pad (such as a Dobie pad), scrub the lemons under warm running water until the skin is bright yellow. Do not remove the skin.
2. Using the fine side of a box grater, zest off just the very exterior yellow peel of each lemon; you do not want to grate any white pith. Reserve the zest for another use. You should be left with whole lemons that are completely white with just a faint yellow tint.
3. Using a small sharp knife, lightly score the pith from top to bottom 4 or 5 times at equal intervals. Carefully remove each segment of the pith and discard the lemon pulp. One at a time, place the petal-shaped pieces of pith, outside surface down, on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, horizontally slice across to remove most of the fibrous tissue from the inside.
4. Thread a large larding needle with un-waxed thread about 12 inches long. Set aside.
5. Roll each lemon petal into a tight cigar like roll. Insert the needle through the centre of the roll to hold it tightly in place. Continue stringing lemon petals until all the petals are on a string. You will need to make a few strings.
6. Place the threaded lemon petal rolls in a large bowl with cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Place in the refrigerator. At noon, drain and cover again with fresh cold water. In the early evening, repeat the draining and covering with water. Just before bedtime, again drain and cover with cold water. Refrigerate until the next morning. As they soak, the lemon rolls will become more pliable.
7. In the morning, drain the lemon rolls. Transfer to a large saucepan and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and drain well. Repeat this process 3 times. After the final time, taste for bitterness. The lemon rolls should have a little bite but not be bitter. If still bitter, repeat the process until bitterness disappears. Set aside to cool.
8. Remove the lemon rolls from the string. The rolls should hold their shape.
9. Weigh the rolls. You should have about 12 ounces.
10. Measure out sugar to equal the weight of the rolls.
11. Place the sugar in a nοn-reactive 2-quart saucepan. Add 2 cups water. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until the sugar dissolves.
12. Stir in the lemon rolls. Add water, if necessary, to cover the rolls by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover, with the lid slightly ajar. Simmer stirring and skimming occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the liquid is clear and syrupy. Periodically taste the syrup for sweetness, allowing it to cool first—it should be neither too sweet nor too tart.
13. To test for doneness, lift some of the syrup up by a metal spoon. When it runs off the spoon and holds a stream, it is done. The liquid will solidify further as it cools.
14. Remove from the heat and transfer to a nοn-reactive container. Set aside to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
15. Remove from the refrigerator and check for texture, consistency, and flavour. Even if it is perfect—and I’ll almost guarantee that it won't be—add 1/2 cup water and place in a nοn-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and simmer for minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
16. When cool, check the consistency. It should be quite thick. Serve or transfer to a glass container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.