Tsikoudia – Raki production
In autumn, Melambes visitor will have the opportunity to visit the traditional distilleries – cauldron of raki and taste the delicious raki, along with appetizers: grilled potatoes, wild mushrooms, chestnuts, kallitsounia and greens, all products of this time of the year.
Raki production, lost in the depth of time, as it is said, it started the 14th century at Agio Oros from monks who lived there and over the years spread in Crete, Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly. The raw material for the production of spirits is strafyla, i.e. the mass that remains after compression of grape mash, for wine production. That mass consists of grape skins and seeds and encompasses a percentage unfermented must. For the production of raki to begin is strafyla must have been seasoning, that were kept for some time in plastic containers. Thereupon, when the time of distillation has come, strafyla will be boiled with fennel (very customary in Melabes), or other herb to give fragrance and also water or wine so a begger amount of raki will be produced. The boiler will be sealed with the cap that ends to noula and will be smear, i.e. seal with dough at the union, to avoid loss of steam. Noulas passes under cold water which helps to liquefy raki and be poured into “laini” i.e. small pitcher of clay.
After that procedure, everything is ready for the fire to be set a blaze under the cauldron either using wood or gas to start the production of raki and along the feast of friends who have gathered to test the raki. The first raki “laini”, protoraki as it said, contempts the bigger amount of alcohol and for that only the brave partake and tasting it. Despite modern technology that has come to distilling many remain loyal to tradition and revive the good old times with the copper utensil, the firewood, the virtuosity of the man who has the distillation and the feast along with the good food and fresh raki.