• The sweet
The walnuts we use for our sweets are collected from trees growing in the steep banks of the Zastanos stream, near the Village Kyrtoni in the Lokri municipality. These walnut trees grew there by chance, from seeds transported by the water flow or seeded by blackbirds, crows and battleaxes in their effort to crack the nuts. The walnut sweet preserve is prepared in the Spring, when walnuts are still tender. It is one of the best traditional sweet preserves, if not the top one. Though the process of preparing this sweet is more painstaking compared to other sweets, the result is truly worth it. You may end up eating the whole jar without realizing it, as it gives the sensation that each piece is a unique taste experience on its own. This is due to the fact that the syrup used is very light and the fact that the fruit itself surprises you with its solid and unexpectedly crunchy sensation- not something your palate has been used to.
• The fruit
The walnut tree belongs to the family Juglandaceae, pertaining 20 species of deciduous trees. The tree is very adaptable and is cultivated in different types of climates and environments – though its yield is higher in areas with warmer and more humid climate. The most common species is Juglans regia. China ranks first globally in terms of walnut production, followed by the USA, Iran, Turkey and Ukraine. In Greece the total cultivated area stands at approx. 70 square kms, while the annual production of walnuts stands at approx. 25,000 tones. Walnuts, when ripe, are shaken off the tree with the use of wooden rods and are quickly collected from the ground before they turn black. The internal part of the nut is the edible part. It can be eaten on its own, used for pastry or cooking and also eaten combined with honey. Except for its unique antimicrobial properties, it destroys intestinal worms and parasites while it contains enough iodine to protect against radiation. Black walnuts are often used as an alternative treatment for acne, thyroid condition, irritated throats, tonsillitis, colitis, ringworms, eczema and hemorrhoids. Native Americans used the tree’s bark to prepare some type of laxative tea.