#visitlesvos
Αρχική 5 Gastronomy 5 Local Products

Local Products

The perfect climatic and soil conditions, the special Lesvian cultural and social environment and the local traditions in the island’s agricultural regions favor the production of particular local products, thus contributing to local economic development. This is implemented mainly through personal initiative of the people who love their hometowns. These enterprises do not seek to attain profits but rather to create or reinforce their social bonds by inaugurating social innovation with an ambition to serve the collective good.

 

Salt

Salt, this most significant ingredient for human nutrition, is produced in great quantities in Lesvos, at the salt evaporations ponds of Kalloni and Skala Polichnitou. Due to the intense and long periods of sunlight on Lesvos, sea water in Lesvos contains more than 77% salts, over 90 minerals and necessary trace elements. This is an unprocessed product with no preservatives or additives and it is widely used by the locals to cure the famous Kalloni sardines and the famous Lesvos pickles. Natural sea salt from the evaporation ponds, when accompanied by certain herbs and spices, adds a rich aroma and a special taste to local dishes. This salt may be bought packaged in small glass jars in the gift shops of women’s cooperatives or the small local groceries around the island.

Herbs

In Lesvos herbs and aromatic plants are a valuable source of nutrition, medicine and cosmetics. For example, some of the herbs growing on Lesvos are oregano, thyme, rock rose (“ladania”), sage, lemon balm, rosemary, lavender, etc. More than 1,580 different plant species have been recorded so far on Lesvos out of a total 5,752 such plants in Greece, making Lesvos a natural botanical garden of its own. Many local enterprises have undertaken to utilize and trade plant products originating from “volunteer” (self-growing) herbs. Many of these herbs are cultivated, harvested, dried, processed and packaged in a traditional and sustainable manner in cooperation with plant specialists and in conformance with European Union standards of human health and food safety.

Sweets

Lesvos presents a wide range of traditional sweets made from home recipes, a necessary part of any Lesvian household, proudly prepared by Lesvian housewives. Home-made syrupy sweets made of locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables are an indispensable accompaniment of a morning or afternoon Greek coffee brewed over charcoal-fired sand bed. These sweets include figs, sweet quinces, bitter lemons or even baby tomatoes and are served at any occasion, festive or not, such as engagements, weddings, or almond paste sweets with artful designs or miniature baklavas with their distinctive blending with walnuts or pistachios, or grated almonds and rose water, yielding a tasty experience hard to describe.

Olive Oil – Olives

The history of the olive fruit in Lesvos goes back at least three thousand years. Olive verdant (“elaiophytos”) Lesvos of antiquity continued to produce olive oil for local consumption in the Byzantine times and during the House of Gateluso occupation. Olive tree cultivation was intensified in the Ottoman years. At present millions of olive trees thrive on Lesvos in unbroken groves with an area equaling 450,000 stremmata (approximately 120,000 acres). The predominance of olive cultivation has always been supported by the excellent climatic conditions and smooth season changes.

Due to its nutritional and biological properties, olive oil is α basic component of the local dietary habits. In particular, the locally produced olive oil is a unique oil in Greece. This may be attributed to the exceptional olive fruit variety grown on Lesvos compared to the rest of the country. In the south part of the island, close to Gera, the olive variety “kolovi” is grown, while in the north it is the “adramytini” variety; the first produces a milder tasting oil, whereas the latter is more intense. However, both are light and sweet, extremely fragrant and golden-colored.

Homemade Pasta

Lesvos has a rich gastronomic tradition. The visitor has the possibility to try unique tastes made of local ingredients processed with passion and love in Lesvian households or by small workshops or women’s cooperatives. The island also produces pasta of excellent quality such as the famous “hakhles” of Lesvos. Hakhla is a kind of boat-shaped trahana (dried dough) with a granular texture made of wheat and sheep’s milk. Besides trahana and hakhles there are many other types of pasta for the visitors while on the island, such as local cous-cous, orzo or Mesotopos fideo. Lesvian noodles (“giofkades”) are another local pasta dish made of sheep’s milk and eggs. The best season for the making of pasta is the summer, after the wheat harvest season for households to stock-up supplies for the winter months.

Seafood

Besides the famous Kalloni sardine, this island boasts of a great variety of fresh fish, such as the “koutavaki” (edible baby shark), rays, lakerda, striped red mullet, cod, common dentex, etc. Many shellfish are very popular on Lesvos and they are fished in both major Lesvos bays, for example, cockles, Noah’s Ark shells, oysters, pectens, all select and quality mezedes eaten raw with lemon or cooked.

Honey

A very popular product of Lesvos is bee honey from thyme flowers. At other points in Lesvos such as the pine forest at Kalloni, pine honey or forest flower honey is produced along with very rare varieties, such as chestnut honey and heather honey, myrtle honey with its exquisite taste and fragrance. These types of honey may be combined with seasonal fruits, locally made yogurt or as a spread over hot oven baked bread as a nutritious, light meal.

Wine

Wines from Lesvos have been very popular since antiquity. The wines from Mithymna were considered to be the nectar enjoyed by the Olympian Gods, while a special place was reserved for the famous wines from Kalloni, such as the Pyrraios Oinos as well as the Muscat red wine of Lesvos. Boats came and loaded great quantities of wine in sealed 8-liter jugs. Each jug cost one golden Turkish lira each. They were transported to Constinople by boat setting off from Kalo Limani (Camur Liman). The island also produces dark sweet wine from grapes cultivated on the lava beds, the same lava that created the Petrified Forest of Lesvos. Despite the low number of wine makers in Lesvos in comparison with the island’s size, the contemporary wines of Lesvos are bound to win over wine aficionados for their quality, their variety and their unique character.

Legumes

On the island of Lesvos legumes are cultivated in limited quantities, yet they have a special place in the diet and the cuisine of the locals. Chick peas, broad beans, white beans, horse beans, fava beans and lentils are all part of the local gastronomy. The most special legume in Lesvos is the small chick pea grown in Lisvori, an exceptionally tasty and delicious variety, and one of the best sources of plant protein with undeniable nutritional value. The Lisvori legumes are served boiled, cooked, with lemon or over-boiled (mushy) as soups, in cold salads, fried with meatballs or roasted as a dry nut (“stragalia”). Chick peas accompany “kiske” or “kisketsi”, a ritual traditional Lesvian meal served in religious festivals. Broad beans are also cooked very frequently by Lesvian housewives accompanied with onions, fennel or dill, lemon and olive oil, a delicious meze for ouzo drinking. Broad beans grow predominantly in Mytilini and to a lesser extent in Vatera, Eresos and Polichnitos. Finally, beans are widely consumed by Lesvians as salads with onions, olive oil and lemon. Known for their tastiness are the beans from Kapi and other varieties such as “pritsikelia”, white (kidney) beans, black-eyed beans, Borlotti beans and “frangofasoula”.

Ouzo

Ouzo has by now been almost identified with the island of Lesvos, as there is a 200-year old tradition in ouzo distillation. Despite the multitude of alcoholic beverages in many parts of Greece, ouzo has followed its own trajectory, becoming the trademark of the Greek people.

Ouzo is produced with ethyl alcohol, enriched with the processing of aromatic substances, such as anise, mastic and various herbs, giving to the distilled product its fragrant and delicate taste.

Bottled ouzo is produced in many places in Greece. However, the ouzo produced in Lesvos stands out in both quantity and quality, as there seventeen ouzo makers in Lesvos covering at least 50% of the total Greek output. Three of the five top brand names in Greek ouzo, both domestically and abroad, are ouzo brands produced on Lesvos: Plomari Ouzo by Isidoros Arvanitis, Ouzo MINI Mytilinis and Ouzo by Varvagiannis.

Soaps

Taking advantage of the plentiful flourishing of the olive tree on Lesvos, there are many local factories and workshops producing natural, organic soap. This is soap with no artificial additives, preservatives, or enhancements, ideal for facial care, body cleansing and hair shampooing. These come in all sizes and an extraordinary range of fragrances and textures. Due to their purity and natural production processes these soaps are extremely effective in cleaning, without being inflammatory on the skin, they are hypoallergenic and appropriate for all types of skins. Besides cleansing, there are air-refresher soaps as deodorants for small spaces, closets and drawers.

The Kalloni Sardines

The sardines (papalines) of Kalloni Bay are considered to be the best sardines in Greece. This sardine, smaller in size and whitish in color, is different from the open sea sardine, a bigger and darker breed. Its special and full taste is due to the natural phenomenon of eutrophication, the ideal climatic conditions and the increased outflow of nutrients from rivers and streams with estuaries into Kalloni Bay. Kalloni Bay is regarded as one of the unique “natural” fish farms worldwide. The Kalloni sardines are heavily cured in salt for no more than 24 hours, whereas other fish and sardines need two to three days. When they are cooked and broiled they become light and crispy, the ideal meze to accompany Lesvian ouzo. Each year the Skala Kalloni locals cherish the Kalloni sardine with the Sardine Festival, where sardines are served boiled, cooked or cured.

Figs

Eresos is especially known for its thick-skinned figs (“politika”). Many stremmata of cultivated fig trees may be found in the fertile Kambos Eresou. Most fig trees are owned by farmers. Such fig varieties such as Eresos figs, Aydinio figs and Prasinosykia Lesvou have been very popular since they were first cultivated uninterruptedly at ancient times. Households serve their guests figs dried, in their natural state, straight from the tree, stuffed with almonds or sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Figs are sun-dried in the old traditional way without sulfur treatment. Furthermore, many inhabitants process figs into a kind of marmalade or a kind of dense syrup (petimezi) with specially compact and intense taste (“vrasma” in the local dialect). Vrasma is used as the base for the baking of local cookies (“vrasmatoloukoumo”), very reminiscent with grape must cookies.

Cheese

Lesvos has a long tradition in dairy production. Their special taste and quality have made these products very recognizable internationally. By applying their traditions, knowledge and skill, handed down from one generation to the next, the local dairy farmers and the cheese-makers manage to produce cheeses of excellent quality. Out of twenty protected designation of origin (PDO) chesses in Greece, three come from Lesvos: Mytilini ladotyri with its spicy aftertaste, produced from sheep’s milk, matured for three months, cured with salt and let rest in barrel topped with olive oil in storage spaces under strict temperature conditions. The second such PDO cheese is the kasseri cheese made of sheep and goat’s milk known for its smooth and hearty taste. Last is the PDO Lesvian feta cheese with its savory, lightly sour and pleasant taste, stored in metal or wooden containers (the so-called “voutes”) in brine and let to mature for two months. Feta from Mytilini is made of a special combination of goat’s and sheep’s milk which lends its characteristic sharpness and firmness.