Local products of Lesvos
The richness and quality of the products of the island over the centuries has created a cuisine with unique taste, freshness and authenticity. The nature of Lesvos has all this variety of necessary raw materials, as well as the human experience to create unique flavors, combined with the seasons and the natural environment of the island in a complete harmony.
Ouzo is almost synonymous with the island. The many distilleries and the special variety of aniseed which is found only on the island of Lesvos confirm in the best possible way the local tradition in the production of ouzo.
Incomparable in flavour and aroma, with the best nutritional qualities, olive oil of Lesvos is a true gift of nature. There are over 11 million olive trees on the island. The olive oil of Lesvos is characterized by its light texture, the light golden color, the pleasant aroma and the refined flavour. Lesvos olive oil repeatedly wins prizes at international expositions for its excellent quality. The first organic olive farm in Greece was created at Kalloni.
The Kalloni sardine is famous worldwide conquering with its flavour more and more followers every year. Whether fresh in the traditional taverns by the sea or salted, the Kalloni sardines confirm their reputation.
All sorts of seafood and shellfish caught daily from the fishing boats of the island have always been high in the gastronomic traditions of Lesvos. Either salted or not, seafood is the ideal snack for ouzo. Scallops and clams, the salted Kalloni sardines or else papalina, the blunt-snouted mullet are all a small sample of the variety of seafood the island offers.
Traditional pasta, made with sheep’s or goat’s milk, fresh eggs, olive oil and wheat flour are another culinary delight. The trahanas (wheat meal boiled in milk and sun-dried), the hahles (trahanas which is given a special shape), the pasta, the gioufkades (type of noodles), all these are unbeatable in taste and quality.
Mushrooms are an integral part of the ecosystem of the island. Today over 150 species of mushrooms have been identified on the island and it is estimated that a thorough investigation will record more than 1,000 species. The amanites (local name of mushrooms) are sold and served in almost all the restaurants of the island.
In Lesvos legumes are grown in limited quantities, but the recipes with legumes still occupy a very important position in the cuisine of the island. Chick peas, broad beans, beans, vetches, lentils are the legumes that form the local gastronomy.
The most famous legume of the island is the small-fruit chickpea of Lisvori. The climate, the soil, the water and mainly the local chickpea variety which is grown give sweet chickpeas which can easily boil. They are so delicious that they can also become jams. In Lesvos they are cooked as a soup in lemon sauce and they also make the famous “revythato” with chickpeas, beef and tomato. You can also taste chickpeas in “kiskek” or “kisketsi”, the traditional food served at feasts, weddings and large gatherings on the island.
Lesvos wine was most requested in ancient times. Aristarchus the poet used to praise the “glykychymon” (sweet juice) and “evodestaton” (of a nice aroma) wine of Lesvos and called it “Ambrosia”. The native red variety of lesbian krasostafilo (wine-grape) is grown in the crater of the volcano that the Petrified Forest created on the island. In the northwestern part of the island, in the area of Makara, the following varieties are grown: Fokiano (Ricara), Kalloniatiko and Moshato (Myrodato). In the mountainous area of Megalochori, of Plomari and of Karyona of Skopelos at Gera another variety is cultivated called “Mandilaria” (Gntoura & Vapsa), Athiri, Assyrtiko and white Moshato.
This valuable product has been produced in Lesvos for centuries, in the salterns (Alikes) of Kalloni, in the Kalloni bay, as well as in the salterns at Skala of Polichnitos.
The salterns have been directly linked to the local primary production and gastronomy and furthermore to the economy of Lesvos. The black raw salt was the essential ingredient for keeping the olives in “bates”, the special olive warehouses where olives were kept until the time for their crushing in the olive press. The creation of the famous salted products of the island is also based on this local salt. Fresh fish are salted and standardized in tinplate cans in order to keep their flavour throughout the year and travel all over the world.
Salt with various herbs, packed in small glass jars, are sold at points of sale of women’s collectives, and in many grocery stores.
The particular flavour and quality of the dairy products have made them internationally recognizable. What is so special about cheese in Greece is that three from the twenty types of PDO cheese today are made in Lesvos: ladotyri, kasseri (semi-hard) cheese of Eresos and feta cheese.
The thyme honey which is widely known is found in every part of the island. In addition, the pine honey (pine forest of Kalloni) and the flower honey are also very popular flavours
In Lesvos herbs and aromatic plants are a valuable source of food, medicine and cosmetics. Indicatively we can mention some of the herbs that exist on the island of Lesvos: oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram, savory, pennyroyal, camomile, mountain tea, rosemary, cardamom, fennel, mallow, etc.
Homemade spoon-sweets from seasonal fruits, as well as Greek coffee, are offered to the visitors in the spirit of the island hospitality, while the traditional baklava, the almond sweets and the buns always exist in every home on festive days.
Apart from all the above, honey, marmalades, sauces, rusks, from small cottage industries and from rural women’s collectives will make your walking around in Lesvos very delicious.
Traditionally the production of soap and the olive oil production are closely linked. In the late 10th century Lesvos had become a center of producing soap from olive oil. It was the first industrial center in the Aegean, which had been specialized in the late 19th century in the production of soaps from olive oil with modern techniques. Lesvos supplied with its products the large market of Constantinople, of Asia Minor Coast and the cities of Black Sea.
The olive oil soap has regained ground recently, in an effort to produce and distribute pure products of superior quality and aesthetics. Decorative soaps, which are either exclusively of olive oil or contain herbal extracts, are mainly produced by small producers.