Traditional products of Kalymnos
Kalymnos is known as the “Island of Sponge-Divers”, because of the considerable growth and development of sponge-fishing that took place on the island, which came to be one of the most important centers of Sponge-fishing in the Mediterranean Sea from the end of the 18th century onwards. The most famous and coveted product of Kalymnos in many types and different designs is still the natural sponge. The natural sponges of the sea are aquatic animals, evolving, depending and surviving within the environment they live in. The diversity of their forms is an interrelation of many parameters, such as the temperature of the water, the light, the existing current, the undulation, the depth, even the age of the animal. It exists in various colors, forms, sizes and constitutions. The sea sponges have been used for years and are part of our everyday hygiene and cosmetic treatment. Natural sponges have a lot of advantages in comparison to the synthetic ones. They have a longer duration of life, they do nοt smudge, they do nοt maintain smells and their soft constitution provides a deeper and without irritations skin cleaning. They are not only used for personal hygiene but also in bioengineering and the pharmaceutical industry.
Apart from the excellent in quality sponges that can still be found in Kalymnos, the islanders also produce pure thyme honey, famous since the Hellenistic and Roman Age for its quality, according to the ancient writers Strabo, Pliny and Ovid. The process for the production of honey is much related to plants and in the case of Kalymnos, it counts on a wide variety of aromatic herbs, such as thyme, sage and oregano, a remarkable fact, especially if we take into account that the terrain is mainly mountainous and barren. The beekeepers in the area take advantage of this particularity and put their clouds of bees to browse in these herbs, so the result is a red-gold honey that combines the essences of these aromas to a particular sweetness.
In the homeland of fishermen and divers the visitor will savor an enormous variety of unique local tidbits, including stuffed vine leaves, all kinds of fresh fish, grilled octopus, minced octopus balls, fuskes, oysters etc. and has the opportunity to buy the “spinialo” an amazing appetizer which is prepared by the anglers themselves and includes scallops, sea urchins and devil fish maintained in seawater. The most authentic product of Kalymnos though is the “Krithini Kouloura” (barley bread) fermented with anise and mastic. It is a kind of rusk that was initially made for sailors, who took it with them when they went away, as it was the only food that could be consumed after a long time without any kind of preservation. In Kalymnos one can also taste the famous “Eptazimo Bread” (seven times kneaded bread) and the “Eptazimo Cracker” which are both kneaded with ouzo and anise. They are products of Byzantine origin that will ideally accompany your meals as well as your coffee. The Kalymnian cheeses are also great for the fans of dairy products: kopanisti cheese, the Kalymnian myzithra cheese (either fresh or dried) and also the Kalymnian kalathaki, which is a salty, semi-hard cheese, are few of them.
In addition, Kalymnos is well known for its production of citrus fruits.
Finally visitors of Kalymnos can find here traditionally handwoven fabrics, traditional costumes and popular art creations.