Zakynthos is famous for its amazing beaches but you can’t come to the island without trying some of its wonderful produce.
Due to the amount of rainfall Zakythos has, it is a very fertile island and its agricultural production is an important source of income to the island.
Olive oil, black currant, wine, olives, citrus friuts, honey, madolato and pastelli.
Extra Virgin First Press Olive oil
This is one of everyones favourites and can be found easily on the island, due to the large crop Zakynthos produces every winter. As you drive around you will understand why. The main type of tree you will see is the olive tree. The gathering and production of the oil takes place from October till March (depending on the crop). All the olives are pressed here on the island. There are several olive press factories that are open in the summer months to show you how the oil is produced. In recent years the locals have started to blend oil with flavours – garlic, lemon, orange to name but a few, and the results are amazing.
Zakynthos also produces some amazing olives for eating, as good if not better than the famed Kalamata olives!
Eating olives on the island are both green and black. The black ones are usually rather large and preserved in a brine of water and salt with a little oil. Green olives have usually been cut or slightly crushed and are preserved in a similar brine which also has lemon and fennel in it. More recently there has been a trend to stuffing olives, but these are less easy to find as it is a more time consuming process.
Another major crop on the island is the black currants. This back breaking crop is gathered in the height of the season, Around August and September. If you are lucky enough to be here you will see field of grapes laid out on sheets to dry, they literaly are ‘sun dried currants’. The aroma is breathtaking as you pass the fields.
Around the same time the grapes are gathered for the fantastic wines the island produces too.You will see the tractors with their wine pressing machines, driving from village to village to crush the grapes. The old fashioned way of ‘stomping’ the grapes has unfortunately been passed up for this quicker style. As most people no long have time for this process. From the first ‘juice’ of the grapes the ladies will boil the ‘must’ until it becomes very very thick. This is then used as a sauce on the delicious Greek yoghurt, and also turned into the delicious moustokoulra (must biscuits).
Greek wines come in many colours and taste, from the barrelled local village wines, which will differ from place to place. To the wonderful wines produced by Callinico, Grampsas, and Solomos wineries All open to visitors and all do free wine tasting.
A must is also the famous ‘Black wine’ from Agia Marina village.
Some of the best you will ever taste. On the island there are usually two crops of honey. One in June – Anthomelo (the honey from all flowers) and in August around the 15th onwards – Thymari (from the flower of thyme). In the last few years there has been a trend to gather in the autumn too, the Reiki honey from heather.
There is an abundance of lemon and orange trees on the island and in order to ensure they don’t go to waste the village women make them into jams and sweets. One of the most common sweets you will be offered is a spoon sweet. This can be made from any fruit. You will only every be offered a very small quantity and always with a glass of water. The reason for this is that this sweet is made with large amounts of sugar, the fruit is served in a very thick syrup so one or two peices is more than enough!
Mandolato and Pastelli
Two of the most wonderful sweets you will eat are also made on the island. Madolato -nougat, and Pastelli – honey with seasme seeds. While in town you will find the small shops which make these proucts. Well worth a try.
The newest product of Zakynthos is the local beer, produced on the island since 2017, in the brewery near Xigia.
As you can see Zakynthos has something for everyone.
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