Over the past few years, crops which supplied export trade in older times have been revived, and new, very promising ones have also been introduced.
The production of raisins is an inventive way to enjoy a grapes (dried), as fresh grapes are only available in nature in the summer months. The vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6 etc.) and the other substances contained in raisins are another health secret of the Cretans• they eat them as a snack or use them to make sweets, like “stafidota”and “patouda”.
Dried nuts are one more popular snack for the Cretans. Rich in unsaturated fat acids which are necessary for the function of of all the cells of the human body, they are a real shield for our heart. The dried nuts of Crete usually come from trees that give fruits alone, without cultivation and care! For centuries, walnuts trees, chestnut trees and almond trees are not systematically cultivated on the island! The nuts they produce (this is a rule for cretan foods) are completely free of chemical substances.
Crete has the largest natural carob forests in the Southeast Mediterranean. Carob used to be a key ingredient for livestock feed, but it was ignored for several decades before making a comeback. Its sweetening properties made it an important energy source in the Cretan diet, and it was also used to make flour. Carob is attempting a remarkable comeback to modern markets with innovative products used mainly in bakery and confectionery, thus rooting modern food trends in older traditions.
Known as the plant of immortality since the time of Alexander the Great, aloe is being restored to its previous glory, as it has uses in the pharmaceutical industry and natural cosmetics. The soil of Eastern Crete has proven especially suitable for the new crops, and producers are ready to invest in new products with good export potential.