A benign climate allows Greece to grow several crops, apart from the traditional olives and grapes. A good variety of fruits, including the well loved lemons, and vegetables, eggplant and spinach within the selection, as well as wheat, and other grains are grown. Although the terrain is not favorable for cattle grazing, it is ideal for sheep and goats.
Ingredients for Greek cuisine
To explore Greek cuisine, you will need to store some items in your pantry. Just as any Greek family would do. Some of the Greek staples, such as olive oil, garlic or aromatic herbs, should already be present in you basic international pantry
Almonds or almond extract – whole or slivered, raw or toasted, almonds are frequently used. If you don’t have almonds, get almond extract, a liquid made from almond oil used to give an almond flavor to food.
Bay leaf – bay leaf is the dried leaf of the laurel or bay tree. It is used fresh or dried, but mainly dried, to season food.
Currants – currants are similar to raisins –dried grapes- but with no seeds.
Dill – dill is one of the aromatic herb, both seeds and leaves are both used in cooking. Dill leaves can be found fresh or dried - dill weed is dried dill. It is used to flavor fish and meat, or in some dips and sauces, tzatziki, for instance.
Fish and seafood - Greece is a land of sun and sea. Indeed, it is surrounded on three sides by the sea: the Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west. Add to that the fact nearly a quarter of Greek land is in its islands. Fishing has always been a major is source of food in Greece. The Ionian Sea especially renders bountiful catches.
Feta cheese – feta is the best known of all Greek cheeses. This salty, crumbly cheese is eaten plain, used in salads, and added to stews and soups. Made from goat or sheep milk
Goat's milk – goat’s milk is used both as a beverage and for making yogurt and cheese, including tangy, white feta cheese.
Grape leaves - the leaves of grapevine plants, usually found packed in cans or glass jars with brine. These leaves are used in many Greek recipes as wrappers for different kinds of fillings. Grape leaves are available at grocery stores and at specialty shops.
Greek olives – usually black, the olives are pickled in brine, their skin appears wrinkled and they are sharp-tasting. Greeks snack on pickled olives and add them to salads.
Honey – honey is used in many popular Greek pastries and it is a popular sweetener in Greece. Honey has been found wild in Greece since the beginning of history and before.
Kasseri – semi-hard Greek cheese made of goat and ewe’s milk, used for grating and in pizza. A second option as grated cheese is the hard variety of mizithra.
Kefalotiri – the Greek cheese for pastries and desserts.
Lamb meat - Greece's rocky, barren mountains are ideal for herds of goats and sheep, and these animals provide several important Greek foods. Lamb is the most popular meat in Greece, although chicken, pork, and beef are enjoyed as well. Meat is often grilled over hot coals in outdoor pits.
Lemons – lemon juice flavors everything, from soup to grilled seafood.
Lentils – these are the flat, edible seeds of the lentil plant and very popular for soups.
Mint – a refreshing aromatic herb often combined with yogurt and cucumber for sauces and salads.
Olive oil – this oil made by pressing olives should already be present in your international pantry, but it is worth mentioning again. Olive trees grow all over in Greece, and the oil that is pressed from these olives is some of the finest in the world. In Greece, olive oil is used for frying, dressing salads, flavoring foods, and for making pastry dough.
Oregano or marjoram - both are fragrant herbs of the mint family often used in Greek cooking.
Orzo – a type of pasta, small, it looks like an oversized grain of rice.
Phyllo – phyllo is the paper thin dough used in many Greek recipes. Phyllo dough is available chilled or frozen at many stores.
Pine kernels - The edible seed of certain pine trees. They have a very characteristic taste. Pine nuts can be expensive. If you don’t find them, substitute with chopped almonds or walnuts.
Red-wine vinegar - vinegar made with red wine that is often used with oil for dressing salads
Scallions – A type of green onion.