Known since the Paleolithic period, the vine and its fruit have justifiably been characterised as the “king of fruit”. Grape, a much loved food of the Greeks since the ancient times, would never be missing from the table. But even if the fruit itself was “absent”, a derivative of it would certainly have taken its place on every day’s lunch and dinner table. Vinegar, wine, molasses are just some of the products one can think of. However, the vine grants us with much more than we can think of. From its little branches, its leaves, all the way to its fruit and juice, the vine is literally exploitable from the top to the bottom and from inside to the outside!

Vine leaves: Vine leaves are large, wide and delicate. How could they not be used? They are used for each and every kind of stuffing, from oily with minced meat, to vegetarian with egg and lemon sauce, making Greek dishes even more popular. You can also wrap vine leaves around small fish or cheese pieces and barbeque them.

Vine shoots and tendrils: The first ones are the edges of the vine that, once cut are making a crunchy-moist sound and can be eaten raw or boiled with olive oil, vinegar and garlic mash. Tendrils are those thin curled up sprouts on the branches of the vine. In earlier years, they were known as “ostilnges”. You can enjoy these in the same way as the vine shoots, pickled in vinegar and salt water, accompanying a glass of ouzo.

Sour grape: Sour grape is the juice from unripe grapes. It is sour but doesn’t quite remind the taste of vinegar or lemon. During the time when no large refrigerators existed to preserve lemons all year round, sour grape juice replaced the use of lemons on the table.

Grapes: Grape is called the “king of all food” or “plant based milk” for the many nutrients it contains. It’s one of the sweetest fruit that grants many more produce than the fruit itself. Some varieties are intended for the creation of wine, others eaten as fruit, others for the production of raisins, while imagination in the kitchen added sugar, resulting in marmalade or grape preserves.

“Stafilarmia”: If you would rather enjoy grapes all year round, you should do it like previous generations did. “Stafilarmia”, a unique delicacy of the past, was whole cluster of grapes preserved either in molasses or wine with mustard seeds in order to last for several months. They would sometimes eat this with bread during fasting, in certain days when oil is prohibited.

Raisins: Many vine trees are solely intended for the production of raisins; the top ones being several muscat vines. Raisins are sun-dried grapes immersed in lye and then sun-dried again. There are black and white raisins, with the latter known as sultanas. They are known to have many benefits to humans, the most important ones being the decrease of bad cholesterol, their anti-cancerous properties and the significant impact in lowering blood pressure. In the past, raisins were a basic ingredient of our ancestors’ diet, who thought that they possessed magical and particularly beneficial properties. In Crete, raisins and must are, along with honey, the most important traditional sweeteners.

“Ppalouzes”, “kkiofteri” and “shoushoukkos”: These are three of the most loved and tasty traditional sweets. Though they resemble each other, each one is unique and all three deserve to be tasted by locals and foreigners! Their production is traced in the end of the 19th century, when the production of grapes was plenty, and they were the main dry food of farmers and labourers. “Ppalouzes”, known as must jelly in Greece, is, in essence, a thick cream made from grapes. It is often combined with almonds and kept in a cool place, in contrast to the “kkiofteri”, which is a sun-dried piece of “ppalouzes”. “Shoushoukos” is being made with must jelly and almonds or walnuts. House wives immerse a 2-metre-long string of nuts in the must jelly twice and let it dry. Then, a second, third and fourth dunking follows; a process lasting for four days, with fresh must jelly each day. All three sweets are excellent company for the traditional zivania.

“Retselia”: They are considered to be the ancestor of sweet preserves. Though they aren’t easily traced today, some house wives persist in making “retselia”, boiling fruit in molasses.

Vinegar: Even if wine goes bad, it’s not useless. It naturally becomes vinegar, accompanying all sorts of salads and food, while vinegar has about a million other uses in a household!

These are some of the vineyard’s presents to our daily table!