As wintertime is drawing to a close in Greece and the temperature gradually rises, why not go for a hike in one of the most beautiful forests, Valia Calda, the most famous National Park in Greece. It is located between the Macedonia and Epirus regions and in its 3,360 hectares you can enjoy dense forests, colorful valleys, mountain lakes, and rapid streams.
Among the rich flora of the numerous microclimates of the park, you can find some fruit trees to boost your energy though your hiking experience. One of these is a wild relative of pears with the common name ‘Gkortsia’ or ‘Apidia’ in Greek folklore. Two native plant species Pyrus spinosa and Pyrus amygdaloformis seem to be recognized by the tradition as wild pear trees in Greece. As we taste the sour and tart small fruits of the wild pear Gkortsia tree, we should think how much effort was needed by scientists to make pear trees produce the big, sweet, and mouthwatering pears found in the supermarket. Today, numerous varieties of pears, cover a wide range of tastes and environments all over the world. Maybe this is due to the fact that this tree was able to survive in many environments and civilizations all over the world. In ancient Greece, fruits were consumed fresh or dried for diarrhea or other digestive problems. Today, pear fruits also offer us a great number of antioxidants and vitamins. In folk tradition wild pears were used to make ‘petimezi’ a sweet liquid used for pies and other sweet recipes. In a big fireplace pot, they boiled pears in water. To this thick liquid they added ash from the fireplace and made a syrup. This syrup was boiled until a thick petimezi was made. The same recipe is better known for its application to grapes to make petimezi from ‘moustos’ and ‘moustalevria’ by mixing it with flour.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.