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Aug 11
Last Updated on 22 September 2011

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are one of the most characteristic features of Chios, and hence the reason that the island is also called "myrovolos" (fragrant); since the moment you arrive to the island, the aroma of the oranges and tangerines' orchards will welcome you from the leafy green fields all around the island.

Over the years, the cultivators have learnt from important losses and today oranges can be seen grown in states surrounded by high stonewalls that protect them from the wind and the cold, to whom they are extremely sensitive. Also, small fires are light between the trees to give them some more warmth, and the leaves on the trees form a natural layer that keeps the heat around.

In November starts the tangerine collection, which ends with the beginning of the orange collection in December. Then the fruits are collected one by one and put into boxes, which cultivators will either sell or bring to the Agricultural Association of Chios’ Citrus Cultivators or to other small manufactures Curiously, this trade had always been done by pieces until the German occupation, when they started to use the weighting system.

In the old days, Chios' citrus fruits were exported to Constantinople (Istanbul) to the Black Sea, to Izmir, to Egypt and to the East. Since 1930, as soon as the Associations first appeared, the Chians were also exporting to the countries of Eastern Europe. Today, Chian tangerines are unique and they are considered to be a distinguished variety, therefore sold as "Chian tangerines". Oranges, on the other hand, are consumed as fruits but they are also used to produce juice and refreshments in the manufactures, or to home make spoon sweets and essential oils.

However, the cultivation of citrus trees has not always been one of the main activities in the island. This new form of trade was imported by the Genovese during their occupation between 1348 and 1566 given the rich soils of the island. The first orange trees were imported directly from Italy, although the Chians also imported them from Africa and a Chian family of Horemi started to import the tangerine trees from India in around 1860-1862. One of the first regions to be cultivated was Kambos, where the water deposits specially favored the cultivation of the "Esperides' Golden Apples", as the ancient Greeks used to call the oranges.