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“Kitro” (Citron) >
When it comes to taste, the word Kitro is synonymous with Naxos Island. Kitro is a strong, scented liqueur made from the leaves of the citron (lemon) tree, and distilled according to traditional methods.
The residents of Naxos Island have cultivated the citron plant since ancient times (“medic lemon”, as it was called), used mainly for medicinal purposes. Nonetheless, the systematic cultivation of citrus trees on the island began in the 17th century A.D.; and in 1896, Mark Vallindras founded the distillery of the same name in the town of Halki.
The year 1928 saw the first exports of Kitro (to the United States) and from that time on, has remained one of the top exporters on the island. In fact, Kitro has been introduced at numerous international and domestic trade fairs, where it has achieved world prominence, and received awards for its distinctive taste – providing additional feathers in Naxos Island’s cap.
The harvesting of the citron leaves takes place from October to February, and the distillation process follows immediately thereafter. Additional ingredients are added in the next stage (water, sugar, natural colourings, et. al.) in order to give Kitro its final “shape”.
Kitro is sold in three different varieties: yellow (without sugar); white (a bit of sugar [preferred by the locals]); and green (with more sugar [preferred by most visitors]).
For those who might prefer their Kitro in a different form, it’s also on sale on Naxos Island in the form of sweet preserves, packaged in special jars. As a matter of fact, the citron leaf can also be found in other regions of the Mediterranean – it is widely used in the preparation of Arabic cuisine.
Today Kitro liqueur is purposely produced in moderate quantities, in order to avoid compromising its quality standards.