N. Kokkas

Local Products of Kozani

Precious saffron, flavourful cheeses and top quality peaches

The region of Kozani is a major energy production area, where high quality marble is also produced. Apart from that, it also boasts some special agricultural products as a result of its climatic & environmental conditions.

The Kozani Red Saffron (Krokos Kozanis PDO) is exclusive to the region and has been recognised since 1999 as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product by the European Union. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world; it is used in a number of dishes in cheese-making and pasta production. Across the millennia, it has also been used for its medicinal and colouring properties and as a natural pigment in painting. The Crocus Sativus bulbous plant has been cultivated in Kozani since the 17th century, for its flowers and, in particular, for the three stigmas and stamens on them. Its cultivation zone covers about 1,000 hectares, starting from the southeast outskirts of Kozani town and ending on the shores of the man-made Lake Polyfytos.

This plant flowers from mid-October until the end of the month, creating a spellbinding purple-coloured sea with orange and red highlights. Once the painstaking and delicate picking process is complete, the dried stigmas and stamens, in the form of red and yellow threads respectively, are taken to the Kozani Saffron Producers Cooperative, located in Krokos village, to be standardised and distributed to the market. Saffron adds its characteristic flavour and colour to many dishes, especially rice. It is popular in the Persian and Indian cuisine, and it is used in European dishes such as the Spanish paella, the French bouillabaisse and the Milanese risotto.

There are several dairies in the Kozani area, which produce a wide range of products, from the local goat and sheep milk, such as Anevato PDO cheese: it is a white, soft cheese, without shape and rind, with an almost creamy and granular texture, and a cool and appetising sour taste.

Batzos PDO cheese is part of the dairy tradition of the nomadic shepherds who used to set up “batzaria” - their makeshift cheese dairies - on the mountains of Western and Central Macedonia. It is a rindless semi-hard brine cheese made from partially skimmed goat and sheep milk, with a usually whitish mass, many small holes and a spicy, typically salty taste. It is ideal for grilling or frying.

It goes without saying that there is a local feta PDO cheese in the Kozani cheese list, as well as a kaseri PDO cheese which is very popular in Northern Greece and is produced using the heated cheese mass process, mostly from sheep milk. The region is also known for producing other cheeses like kefalograviera PDO, mizithra, anthotyro, touloumotyri, soft and hard cheeses from goat milk, as well as new types of cheeses, with added herbs and spices, butter and yoghourt, made from local milks.

The delicious, thick manouri PDO cheese is produced by adding either full-fat goat or sheep milk, or cream, to high-fat whey from batzos or kaseri cheese (or even the lower fat whey from feta cheese). Shaped like a cylindrical cane, manouri is a white cheese, with a soft, compact mass without holes. It has a milky aroma and a full, discreetly salty, taste. It is consumed either on its own or in cooking. The famous Vlasti Aeros cheese is a cheese similar to manouri but its availability is limited. It is produced from goat milk whey and is dried out in the air for about a month, which gives it a firmer texture and a more complex taste.

The juicy and flavourful Velventos peaches are a local product which is famous beyond the Greek borders, as approximately 40% of the local cooperative’s harvest has been exported for quite a few years now. The Servia plums and cherries as well as the Eordea apples are also well-known for their fine taste and quality.

Nuts & Pulses
The chestnuts produced in Kastanochoria (i.e. the chestnut-producing villages) in the Voio area are particularly tasty, as are the lentils from Vronti. The beans [small-sized ones (similar to navy beans), large beans (similar to butter beans) and very large beans (similar to white kidney beans)] from Sisani village are also in high demand, as the combination of the fertile soil and the good local climate have created the ideal environment for their cultivation.

© P. Merakos

© Studio M

© Studio M

© Studio M

© Studio M