The list of high quality agricultural produce grown in Greece includes fruits and vegetables that have become known worldwide for their nutritional value, uniqueness, freshness and taste. This is the case for PDO Maleme oranges, part of the Washington Navel variety, which are sweet and juicy oranges of medium size with strong fragrance, traditionally cultivated in the coastal zone of Chania Regional Unit, in Crete.
Maleme oranges were certified as PDO product (Protected Designation of Origin) in 1996, and they are the only Greek citrus fruit under this distinction.
Their cultivation began during the 1920s and can be found in many varieties while their exceptional taste is related to the ideal microclimate of Chania area which is a combination of atmospheric humidity, sunlight during the whole year and abundant water available from irrigation sourcing from the White Mountains. They time of harvest begins between October and December, lasting until the end of May.
They are quite large, slightly elongated, have characteristic colour and are quite firm, which makes them easy to transport. It is often said that Cretan oranges are among the best in the world. According to Greek mythology, these oranges were kept in the Gardens of the Esperides, away from humans. Maleme oranges were the most important fruit to eat during the winter, and were present in every Cretan home due to their high nutritional value.
The Maleme oranges should be kept in a cool and dry place, and, if not consumed immediately, they should be kept in the less cold area of the refrigerator. They are consumed plain, as a snack or to make very tasty juices. Although usually eaten raw, there are many recipes for tasty jams and pies that can be made from this fantastic fruit.