Walnut is in every grocery now (early November) on Rhodes, and here everybody knows that the best walnut trees of the island are growing in the tiny mountain village, Salakos.
Just as Nisyros island has its wonderful traditional beverage made of almond (it is called ‘soumada’), also Salakos village has its characteristic homemade liquer made of walnut namely: ‘liker karidaki’.
Although for this recipe you have to collect young, unripe walnut fruits in May/June that have not formed their hard shells yet.
For one bottle you need:
about 10 walnuts, 2 cinnamon sticks, one spoon of cloves, half kilo sugar, finally half liter ‘souma’ (the spirit of the Dodecanese made from grape marc and wine). Place everything in a glass bottle and leave it on the sun for 20 days. Don’t forget to shake the bottle each day! At the end you’ll get a dark brown, bitter liquer which you can use as aperitif or as digestive aid.
And the very special spoon sweet (glika tou koutaliou) of Salakos is also made from the fresh unripe small walnuts! I am amazed by the fact that Greek housewifes are truly using the gifts of their garden and countryside throughout the year and transforming them into delicious food which serve as a bond between people.
Spoon sweets are at every Greek household made by women using various fruits. It is like a marmalade, but with less liquid, the point is the fruit. They serve it on tiny glass plates whenever they have visitors in their house. And because it is so sweet, they serve only a spoonful of it and they always serve it with a glass of water.
Every village, area and season has its specific spoon sweet. The one with the walnut is typical in Salakos village and it has also cloves and cinnamon in the recipe plus lemon juice.
And the walnut itself is exceptionally beneficial for our health being full of omega 3, vitamine E, dietary fibers, and it has the highest polyphenol content among other nuts. This means that walnut can be a good ally of someone with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, inflammation, plus it has neuroprotective and antiaging effects.
Of course locals use the nuts too in food recipes. Here on the Dodecanese archipelago two islands are famous of their walnut cake: Kos and Leros. The Lerian ‘karidopita’ (or walnut cake) has a chocolate layer on top which reminds me of my Hungarian grandmother’s similar walnut cake (but that one is like real heaven). Some pastry shops of Rhodes also sell ‘karidopita’.
On Rhodes island there is a traditional sweet using walnut from the old days when people didn’t have access to all sorts of unhealthy sweets at each corner and anytime like we have today due to the globalised market. Back in the “good old days” Rhodians ate dried fruits when no fruit was accessable on their thees or shrubs. One of the most amazing recipes was born as a result of the latter fact and the richness of the Rhodian countyside. And it is the recipe of the ‘askadia’, the dried fig delight stuffed with walnut, roasted sesame and cinnamon. The way of making ‘askadia’ is pure witchcraft and I will share it in a coming post. 😉
Ps.: make sure you wear gloves when peeling walnut! Otherwise you’ll have black hands for a month!