Gliko is an important element of the Albanian cousine and is made from many different fruits and vegetables, all grown locally by many of the valley’s small-scale farmers.
‘Walnut husk’ gliko, made from whole green walnuts, is the most common style and other popular variations include white cherry, eggplant, wild fig, plum and apricot.
Gliko is a sweet preserve that is often served with spirits or juices. Walnut gliko, is mainly made from unripe walnuts (also known as kaçka) that should be harvested at the proper stage: not too soft, but also not too hard and mature.
To test if it is the right moment for harvest, a metallic rod is inserted into the walnut. If it can be inserted and removed easily, it means the walnut is at the correct stage to be used in making gliko.
After the fruits are collected, the walnuts are cut and put into a pot to boil for three or four minutes to soften their outer layer. Cutting the fruits makes them more permeable and more easily able to absorb liquid.
Then, the fruits are placed into cold water for several days, with the water changed several times, in order to remove bitterness.
Next, they are peeled and placed into a container of water and lime for about two hours before being rinsed with cold water. This step helps the walnuts retain their shape. Then, the nuts are boiled for three to four minutes, rinsed again with cold water.
One kilogram of the walnuts is then mixed with a syrup prepared from one kilogram of sugar and 700 ml of water.
The mixture is boiled, and a juice released from the walnuts becomes mixed in with the syrup. Citric acid and geranium flowers are then added. A peeled almond is inserted into each walnut, and everything is boiled again. Then, the mixture is left to cool and placed into glass containers which are sealed for long term storage or sale.
Walnut gliko is a typical product of Përmet, in southern Albania, bur according to AgroWeb.org facts, it is also well-known in Korça and South East region.
It is served at celebrations and family feasts, such as engagements ceremonies, weddings or birthday parties and to welcome guests. It is produced both for sale and for personal or family consumption.
However, walnut gliko is at risk of disappearing because younger generations do not show interest in traditional local culinary traditions. Also, because they grow in the wild, it is difficult to collect large quantities of walnuts for gliko production.
The number of people still producing it at a homemade level is diminishing, and there is only one small company that produces it at an artisan level for the local and national market.
Besides being offered as a welcoming treat to guests, it is usually served with a glass of water or coffee as a desert after a nice meal./AgroWeb.org