Tips on using and storing products

Olive oil


1. Olive oil's storage

Olive oil can be kept longer than any other edible oil, and if stored properly it will take years before it becomes rancid. High quality extra virgin olive oils such as ours are rich in polyphelons, which apart from the health benefits they offer, can also considerably prolong the shelf life of the oil.

Suitable containers
The best containers for storing olive oil are glass (especially tinted glass), ceramic, porcelain, or non-reactive metals such as stainless steel. Do not store olive oil in containers made of reactive metals such as copper or iron. The chemical reaction between the olive oil and the metal will damage the oil and may produce toxins. Olive oil should not be stored in plastic containers because the oil may absorb PVC's from the plastic. Always store olive oil in a sealed container as otherwise it will oxidize rapidly. If olive oil is stored in a bottle, always replace the cap on the bottle and keep it tightly sealed. Never put olive oil in a container that does not have a tight cap or some other method of sealing the container.  It is a sign of poor conservation if the oil has absorbed the odours and flavours of everything surrounding it, even if not in direct contact.

Suitable location

Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place like a cellar where the temperature is cool and constant. If you want to use a kitchen cabinet, make sure it's away from the stove and not exposed to direct sunlight.

Suitable temperature
The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 13°C (57°F), although a normal room temperature of 21°C (70ºF) works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. Olive oil will solidify at 2
°C (36ºF),
but it will return to a liquid state as soon as the temperature rises. In colder weather, olive oil may turn cloudy, especially if the temperature of the storage area falls below 10°C (50ºF).  Olive oil can be refrigerated without significantly affecting its quality or flavour. Note that it will become cloudy and congeal in the refrigerator, but it will return to its original, liquid state when warmed to room temperature.

Expected shelf life
Our olive oil should last at least for two years, assuming that it is properly stored. However, it has the best flavour, and health benefits when used within a year after its extraction date. Note that olive oil consumed after its recommended expiration date, is not harmful but has an unpleasant odour and taste. As olive oil ages, it continually degrades with its acidity level rising.  There are three key indicators that olive oil is no longer suitable for consumption:
1. Rancidity
2. A wine taste/smell
3. A metallic flavour (especially if stored in a container made with reactive metal)

2. Cooking with olive oil
When cooking pulses always add the olive oil in the end otherwise it loses a great part of its vitamins
.

Use the infused olive oils in salads or barbecue dressings and also in appetizers. The ideal way to enjoy all their aromas is to have them raw therefore avoid cooking with them.
Infused olive oils are more expensive but you don't have to replace the whole bottle each time you finish one as you can fill it with our extra virgin olive oil up to three times. The herb inside the bottle will give its aroma and taste a few more times!
When frying use olive oil, it will make a fried dish healthier and tastier. Try to make crisps with olive oil; you will love the taste!

 

Honey


1. Storing Honey
While one of the greatest facts on honey storage is that it doesn’t spoil even with no preservatives and additives, liquid honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its some of its aroma and flavor. Over time, liquid honey also tends to naturally crystallise and become lumpy over a period of time. This does not affect the taste and quality of the honey at all, although it changes its appearance. Hence, for commercial reasons, a certain a certain shelf life is often stated on the honey bottles in the shop.

Storing honey is easy.  Keep it in a cool location away from direct sunlight in a tightly covered container. It is not necessary to refrigerate it. In fact, it's much easier to handle if you don't. Do not be alarmed if stored honey becomes cloudy. This is called crystallization. It is not harmful nor is it any indication of deterioration. In fact, honey has an indefinite shelf-life (a certain shelf life often stated on the honey jars is purely for commercial reasons).  On the contrary this is an indicator of top quality honey.  If you wish to restore granulated honey to its natural state, just place the jar over hot water (about 50-60°C), as soon as the granules are dissolved, remove the honey from the heat and let it cool as quickly as possible. Remember, never boil honey!

2. Using Honey
It's very easy to substitute honey for sugar in your recipes. Honey is up to twice as sweet as table sugar, so you will need to reduce the amount called for in the recipe by one-third to one-half honey for granulated or table sugar. In addition, since honey is composed of up to 18% water, you will need to reduce the liquid called for in baked goods by about one-fifth.

When baking sweets, you should also lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees F. (15 degrees C.).

If you are measuring honey by weight, 1 cup will weigh 12 ounces.

To help that honey slide smoothly from your measuring utensils, simply lightly coat the utensil with a vegetable spray before measuring the honey.

Unless the recipe calls for sour milk or cream, some cooks add the merest pinch of baking soda to the recipes of baked goods to counteract the slight acidity of the honey which may cause overbrowning.

Since it has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, honey is used in the industry to keep baked goods moist and fresh. Use honey in baked goods you plan to mail to keep them bakery-fresh.

Make a cup of hot tea (use our fantastic teas that you will find in our Herbs, Teas & Spices section) and add honey instead of sugar. This hot drink is a natural remedy for sore throats, coughs and general cold symptoms and its calming effects promise a good night sleep.  Alternatively you can buy a bottle of ready Cretan Rakomelo (raki with honey) available in our Wines & Raki and also our Honey and Related products sections.  An amazing natural relief and remedy for sore throats etc.

Honey is a hangover remedy. Fill half of a cup with warm milk; add a tablespoon of honey, a few drops of lemon juice and 50 ml of water. You will feel much better soon.

Add honey (plus dried plums and walnuts if you wish) to Greek strained yoghurt and make a fantastic, low fat traditional Greek dessert for lunch, or dinner. It’s so easy to make and your friends will love it!

Add honey instead of sugar or chocolate to home made donuts.

Salad and barbecue dressings, especially the classic vinegraite are fantastic with a tablespoon of honey. The body of the dressing becomes richer and much more tasteful.

Make a beautiful sweet snack adding honey on a slice of bread with yellow cheese (preferably "graviera" - gruyere)

Wine


Storing wine
The main enemies of wine are air, heat and humidity.  It’s important you keep the bottle sealed until you plan to drink it with the cork intact so no air gets in to it (once you have opened the bottle, see below for storing leftover wine).

Temperature and especially heat play a major role in the condition of wine.  The ideal storage temperature for wine is 13°C so wine should normally be stored between 10-16°C, although a range of 7-19°C is considered OK and the most easily maintained.  If you put a bottle of wine above the stove to store it for example, something people do all the time, it can be toast in a few days.  Prolonged cold temperatures are not good either.  So storing wine in the fridge for example for a week or longer can start to damage the wine (sort of like how ice crystals form on ice cream in it sits in the freezer for too long).  But as hot temperatures really do nasty things to wine, cold is pretty mild compared to hot!

What hurts wine the most is temperature fluctuation. Even a steady storage at 18°C is better than storage that every day goes from 7°C - 18°C and back again. One of the effects of this gyration in temperature is that the cork is pulled in and out, and air has a better chance of getting in to the wine.

The final major factor to watch in your wine storage area is humidity. Even though humidity fluctuations are not nearly as bad for wine as temperature can be, you want to aim for a humidity of around 80%.

Serving temperature
If wine (both white and red) is too warm, its flavour falls apart. White wines can be left in the fridge (however, they should never be served too cold) while it is best if red wines are chilled in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes before serving.  If you’re not sure, it's better to serve the wine colder and let it warm in the glass rather than to serve it too warm.  Keep in mind that more flavourful, fuller bodied white wines can be served at a slightly warmer temperature than bone dry whites.

 

Wine glassware
Aside from the wine, when choosing the glass to use you have to take into consideration the occasion. There are more styles of wine glasses than ever before, so don't be afraid to make the glass casual if it fits the mood.  Also, pay attention to the detergent you use to clean your wine glasses as its residue can effect negatively the wine’s flavour and aroma.  It’s best to wash your glasses with hot water using no detergent, air drying them and storing them in your cabinet upright so that odours are not trapped in the glass.

Wine breathing
Some red wines, particularly big Bordeaux, well-made Syrah/Shiraz and Italian Barolos benefit greatly from having some time to open-up their flavour and aroma. However, with the exception of the pre-mentioned types, most wines can be drunk immediately, and white wines in particular will not benefit at all from having time to breathe.  When allowing wine to breathe, it is important it is done in a proper manner, simply popping the cork and leaving the wine in its bottle will do little to allow it to breathe, since so little of the wine is able to interact with the air. Wine should breathe either in a decanter or in your glass (it’s recommended you do not fill your glass more than half way in order for the aromas to come out).

Leftover wine
There are three main ways to preserve leftover wine:

1. Recorking it and putting it in the fridge.  In this case, it’s best if you can move the leftover wine into a half bottle before refrigerating it as a fuller bottle will allow for less oxygenation to occur.  Generally, white wine lasts a lot longer (approximately a week) than red wine (recorked, refrigerated red wine will last 2-3 days max.).

2. Vacuum pumping the wine with a special pump. This sucks out the air in the bottle and seals it for later use. The wine should still be placed in the fridge, but can last for several days in this fashion.

3. Filling up the unused portion of the wine bottle with a special gas that prevents oxygen from interacting with the wine. These canisters are easy to use and can be found at most wine merchants.

 

Wine and food
Although there are some basic rules regarding wine and food pairing, at the end of the day, nothing is carved in stone plus this type of choice is a very subjective one.  People should experiment in order to find the combinations they like and also keep in mind that tastes change from time to time.

Having said that, the one basic rule that people tend to agree on is that white whine pairs with white meat and is best with light food and red whine pairs with red meat and is suited best for heavier food.  One very basic rule is to never pair a wine with food that is sweeter than the wine is.

Also some general guidelines exist as far as the drinking order of wine during a meal:

  • white wines before red wines
  • young wines before aged wines
  • dry wines before sweet wines
  • soft wines before tannic wines

    Finally, don't forget the rosé. Rosés are perfect summer wines and make a great start to an evening.

    Raki


    Drinking Raki

    As a visitor to Crete chances are that sooner or later you will be offered at least 1 glass of tsikoudia.

    • Like with most spirits, never drink it on an empty stomach.
    • Have it after your meal or have it accompanied by small snacks.
    • If you are not used to spirits or have a weak stomach: drink water after each sip.
    • Never mix raki with another drink. Once you start to drink raki, finish off with raki and do not change to wine or beer after unless you want to get very drunk and experience a severe hangover.
    • If you do not like to drink an offered raki: do not drink it and leave the glass full. An empty glass is a sign to your hosts that you liked it and they will happily give you a refill.

    If you buy raki for home, make sure to keep it in your checked in luggage if you travel by plane due to the new rules for hand luggage at all EU airports (even better, order it directly from us and avoid the hassle!! Smile...).

    Herbs


    Dictamus

    Dictamus is also known as Erontas (the herb of youth) and is renowned for giving strength and vitality.  Boil 10-15gr in 1 litre of water for 2 minutes and enjoy a cup of the invigorating drink which is suitable for headaches, neuralgia, period pains, stomach and liver problems.

    Malotira or Mountain tea
    An infusion made by boiling 10-15gr in 1 litre of water for 2 minutes.  It is said to be stimulating, nourishing, detoxicating, a diuretic and a digestive. Malotira is also suitable for treating colds and respiratory problems. With added cinnamon and honey it makes a soothing and antiseptic cough treatment.

    Oregano
    Dried oregano is an extremely popular herb for salads, roasts, fish and souvlaki and gives them a Cretan flavour. As an extract of 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day) it is said to ease respiratory problems and coughs (including whooping cough), asthma, stop toothaches, gastro-enteric conditions, and diarrhoea. It is also a tonic for anaemia.

    Chamomile
    "Chamomile works in harmony with the human body and is beneficial in combating fatigue" (William Turner 1551) As an extract 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day) it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and an antiemetic. When very well strained, it is also suitable for cleansing the eyes.

    Sage
    Boil 10-15gr in 1 litre of water for 5 minutes and have a cup of an stimulating drink which helps improve the digestive system and the functioning of the liver. It is also suitable for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers and gingivitis. It is connected with long life and helps fight colds, fevers and rheumatoid or muscle pains.

    Rosemary
    Rosemary gives a special flavour to roasted fish. As an extract of 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day) it helps ease colds, flu, rheumatic aches and indigestion. Used as a hair rinse it combats dandruff.

    Coriander
    One of the most popular herbs. As an extract of 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day) it is an invigorating drink, effective against anaemia and also a memory stimulant.

    Thyme
    In ancient times it was known as an antidote for the poison of snakebites. As an extract of 10-15gr in 1litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day), thyme is an antiseptic, an antibiotic, a diuretic, an antibacterial and a healing agent.

    Lavender
    Since ancient Greece, it is considered one of the most popular herbs with pharmaceutical properties. As an extract of 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (2 cups per day) it relaxes the body, stimulates the circulation, strengthens the nervous system and is an antibacterial, an analgesic and an antiseptic.

    Maratho
    The ancient Romans believed that reptiles drank the juice of maratho to enhance their vision. It gives food, particularly salad a special taste. As an extract 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water (drink 2 cups per day) is helps combat indigestion, colic and urinary problems.

    Basil
    Basil arrived from India to Europe from India ancient times. In Greece is used as an ornamental plant. As an extract 10-15gr in 1 litre of boiled water is said to be invigorating, antidepressant, antiseptic and antiemetic.  It also arouses the cortex of adrenal glands, reduces fevers and relieves itching.

    Dried Parsley
    A wonderful flavouring for food and salads (especially roasted fish and braised food).

    Eucalyptus
    Traditionally a native medicine used to combat fever, it was brought to the West in the 19th century.
    Ιt helps reduce fevers, coughing and blood sugar levels as well as being an antiseptic and a stimulant. Inhaling a eucalyptus infusion can help ease breathing.

    Marjoran
    Marjoran has been cultivated in Greece since ancient times and in Greek mythology was said to be the perfume of Aphrodite. As a herbal tea of 15-20gr in 1 litre of water (drink 2 cups per day) it soothes chest pain and helps combat epilepsy.

    Bay leaf
    Two to three leaves of Bay leaf in cooked food (onion stew, lentils) give a very special flavour and taste.

    Thrympa, Fliskouni, Kalentoula, Elichrysos and Antonaida are infusions that are stimulating and thermal for the body.

    Preserves


    Differences between Jam, Preserves, Marmalade and Jelly

    Jam is made by boiling fruit with sugar, the result being a thick puree containing fruit bits.

    Preserves are made using whole or large pieces of fruit or vegetables which are suspended in a thick syrup.  They are mixed with sugar and boiled for a much shorter time than jam, allowing the fruit to maintain its original shape and taste as much as possible.  Of course, this is a very basic definition used just to highlight the difference with jam and as you will read in our Cretan Products section, the process of Greek

    spoon sweet making is very demanding in terms of both time and

    traditional know how.

    Marmalade is similar to jam but is usually made with citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and tangerines (oftentimes containing fruit rinds).  However, other fruits can also be used.

    Jelly is made from fruit juice and contains no fruit bits.

     

    Storage

    Our products are completely natural and contain no artificial

    additives or preservatives.

    Always store them in a cool, dark place and always refrigerate once opened.

    Never use a wet spoon or knife when dipping in the jar as mould might form (we know it’s tempting but you should never lick your spoon and put it back in the jar unless it’s dry).

    Natural Soap


    In order for a handmade, natural soap to last as long as possible, please keep it in a well-drained soap dish and allow it to dry between uses. If left standing in water or in a direct stream of the water, the lifespan of the bar will be shortened considerably as it contains no artificial additives or preservatives. Keep unused soaps wrapped until ready to use, and store them in a cool, dry place.

     

     

     
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    EatCrete - Gourmet Tradition: Artisan sweet & savory biscuits and rusks baked by hand in beautiful Crete plus wild mountain herbs & thyme honey. 

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