cyprus heritage  recipes  sweet

Bergamot Glyko with Brown Sugar

I made “glyko” this week, which is not that hard to make, but it is very time consuming. For most readers glyko needs no introduction. It is an ubiquitous Cypriot dessert found in every aunt’s, cousin’s, or grandma’s cupboard.  It’s interesting how your attitude towards an item of food changes when you learn how to make it. It was the first time I had a visual understanding of how much sugar is used to make this stuff. Hello grossness. I was curious to see if you could make it with a “healthier” form of sugar, so I asked my aunt if she could show me how to make it with some demerara sugar (basically natural light brown sugar) I found in Marks & Spencers. This was met with some doubt. OK, a lot of doubt. Because it would make the bergamot brown in colour, when it is traditionally white in colour. I didn’t mind though as long as it still tasted good. I figured it was just like eating whole-wheat bread instead of white. At the end of the day, the glyko tasted just the same. Here is how to make it with either white sugar (for those traditionalists out there) or brown sugar (for those rolling stones fans … I hope someone got that reference.) It is traditionally served as a treat with Cypriot coffee.  Other types of fruit, vegetable and nuts can be made into glyko as well – watermelon skin, walnut, cherries, oranges and even pumpkin. Apparently, in the village of Agros they even make it with rose petals. I’d love to try that and learn more about that.

Level of Difficulty: 5/5 (very time-consuming)
Preparation Time: 5 days
Cooking Time:  n/a
Makes about 4-5 small jars
10 bergamot oranges (should yield about 30 “glykos”)
1 kg sugar for every 30 “glyko” (white sugar, or light brown sugar OK)
Water as needed

1. Wipe the bergamot oranges and grate their peel using a fine grater.

2. Make three slashes and remove the peel (remove all the thick fibres from insides of the peels).

3. Roll up each piece and place a toothpick through the flesh.

4. Put all bergamot orange peels in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat until the water boils. Let sit in the saucepan to cool. The next day, change the water. Do this for three days.

5. On the fourth day, change the water and try a small piece of a bergamot orange peel. The texture should be solid, but soft to chew. If the texture is still a bit hard, bring the water to a boil again. Afterwards, remove the bergamot orange peels from the boiling water and let cool.  Then pick each bergamot orange peel up, remove the toothpick, and squeeze to release the liquid inside. Place in a bowl to the side.

6. Pour the sugar and water (1 kg sugar and 3 cups of water for every 30 bergamot orange peels) into a clean saucepan and heat until the sugar has melted and the liquid has become a bit sticky. You can tell when this happens if you take a spoonful of liquid and pour it back into the saucepan and the last remaining drops stick to the spoon. It is quite important that the sugar sets properly because if it has not set properly the glyko may go mouldy or turn sour. Add the bergamot orange peels back into the pot and let cool until the next day.

7. On the fifth day, take the bergamot orange peels and place in clean and dry glass jars. Then, enjoy!


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