Despite the tourist development, Naxos is still based on agriculture and livestock production, as was the case throughout its history.
NAXOS CHEESE. Naxos has fertile plains, waters, lush mountains and a livestock production that has always been particularly developed. Today it is estimated that hundreds of cows graze in the meadows of Naxos and many goats and sheep on the mountainous side of the island.
Milk production is large and cheese production has become an activity with great tradition over the years. The most famous cheese is graviera (at least 80% cow milk and maximum 20% sheep milk) with protected designation of origin (PDO) since 1996. Also famous is kefalotyri – the so-called male cheese, as the cheese producers call it to differentiate it from myzithra, the female cheese that is also made of sheep milk. There is also the goat milk, the white feta cheese and xinomyzithra (sour cream cheese). The Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Naxos produces the largest quantity of cheese and collects over 12,000 tons of milk annually by its milk producers. You can find the cheese varieties of the union at the port service station (www.easnaxos.gr), while there are also other cheese dairies on the island. Cheese is also sold by small producers, shepherds etc.
NAXOS POTATOES. They are famous for their quality and taste due to fact that the island’s soil is rich in potassium and sandy clay.
CITRON. Naxos citron is a distillate, not liquor. It comes from the distillation of pure alcohol in traditional copper pot stills. Its raw material is the leaves of the citron (citrus medica) which belongs to the wild citrus trees (in the fruit family including lemon, orange etc.). The leaves of the tree of citron that contain strong aromatic essential oils were first used by winegrowers during the distillation of raki. The cultivation of citrus fruits in Naxos dates back to the 17th century. In 1896 Markos Vallindras founded in Chalki the homonymous distillery. Exports began in 1928.
The citron plants are collected in October to February and distillation follows. The citron of Naxos is also traded as teaspoon sweet in jars. Liquor comes in three colors: yellow (no sugar), white (a little sugar, preferred among the Naxians) and green (more sugar). The distillate helps digestion.
OIL/HONEY. About 400,000 olive trees on the island fully satisfy the local needs for oil, while around 4,000 cells produce pure thyme honey.
SWEETS. One of the most well-known local sweets is “melachrino”, a kind of walnut pie with a small amount of citron. It is usually served with ice cream made from sheep milk. In Naxos they also produce a great variety of teaspoon sweets, like eggplant, quince, citron, fig, walnut etc. Naxos amygdalota (almond cookies) are also very delicious.
WINE/RAKI. The cult of Dionysus in Naxos was interwoven with the cultivation of vines and wine production. Vineyards are mostly found in mountainous and semi-mountainous areas of Naxos, where locals produced the famous “sweet” wine. They also produce raki.
The production of local wine takes place in mid-autumn, while raki is produced at the end of October and November.