The Cretan diet, internationally recognised for its numerous health benefits, is largely based on the consumption of fruit in significant quantities. Studies show that, the people of Crete, consume 6 times more fruit than the average resident of other Mediterranean countries and 6 times more fruit than a resident of Northern countries.
The orange was the fruit that was never missing from a Cretan table, considered a necessary dessert. Greek mythology tells us that citrus fruits were the gift of Gaea, Earth, in the wedding of the father of the Gods, Zeus with Hera. European wanderers, who arrived in the island in the 19th century exalted the oranges of the island.
This divine gift, which, according to Greek mythology was kept in the garden of the Hesperides (the nymphs of the evening and golden light of sunset), away from men, is mainly grown in the fertile valley of Chania.
The cultivable oranges of Crete are mainly drawn for the Merlin, Navel and Valencia varieties. The particularity of the local climate and terrain make Cretan oranges rich in juice, which is sweet in flavour and with distinct aromas. In addition, the sea’s influence helps the cultivation early oranges of superior quality.
Oranges are rich in vitamins C and A, sugars, potassium, calcium and phosphorous, as well as numerous antioxidant substances. An average orange covers 116% of the daily recommend vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is associated with the reinforced of the immune system against viruses and illnesses.
Chose tight oranges, heavy for their size, so they are juicier. Oranges have a long shelf life. You can keep them in room temperature or in the fridge for up to two weeks. The juice and their shavings can be maintained in the freezer.
The varieties of mandarins grown in Crete are mainly clementines, nova and encore. The varieties depend on the season with the earliest being clementines, then nova and finally the encore. Depending on the variety, Cretan mandarins differ in size from 35 to 70mm in diameter and have a very sweet flavour.
Mandarins are rich in vitamin C, potassium and bromine salts with many healthy benefits for the organism. They also are one of the best sources of vitamin C, since an average mandarin weighting 88 grams covers 40% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
The varieties of lemon cultivated in Crete are particularly fragrant, with a large content of juice and lively yellow colour.
Lemons are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, which are effective against infections and viruses like flu and the common cold. Furthermore, lemon juice has anti septic, anti bacterial, anti oxidant and anti inflammatory effects.