10 Traditional Greek Cooking Ingredients

From freshly grown produce to Greek-made cheese, Greek cuisine relies heavily on locally-sourced ingredients. In any Greek kitchen, you’ll find most of the following ingredients:

  1. Olive oil: If one ingredient could represent all of Greek cuisine, it would be olive oil. There are many varieties that are used for cooking, baking, and simply drizzling over any traditional dish.
  2. Olives: Along with olive oil, olives themselves are a staple on any Greek table—particularly the national favorite, kalamata. Stuffed with herbs and spices and marinated in vinegar or oil, olives are added to salad dishes or simply placed in a bowl at the dinner table.
  3. Mastic: This crystallized resin from the pistachio tree, called mastiha, is only grown on the Greek island of Chios. It has been used for thousands of years, as both a medicinal treatment and to flavor foods, both sweet and savory.
  4. Feta cheese: The national cheese of Greece, feta can only be produced in certain regions of the country. This white, crumbly cheese is made from sheep’s milk, or a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk.
  5. Greek honey: Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners in Greece. Its flavor depends on the season and what flowering plants the bees are taking nectar from. Greek honey is used in many dessert recipes, like baklava.
  6. Herbs: Like other ingredients, herbs grow easily here thanks to the climate. Greek cuisine incorporates dry herbs in many traditional dishes, with thyme, oregano, mint, and savory as some of the most popular.
  7. Fruits: Greece has a year-round growing season and dishes often reflect what is ripe on the vine or tree. From apples in winter to citrus in the summer to berries in the spring, there is no end to the fresh fruits used in recipes or simply eaten after a meal.
  8. Legumes: Greek recipes often use native legumes, like fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas.
  9. Fish and seafood: Greece is surrounded on two sides by the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, which are a source of one of Greek cuisine’s most traditional ingredients: fish. While oily fish, like sardines and anchovies, are a staple, a favorite seafood in Greece is octopus.
  10. Yogurt: One of Greece’s most famous culinary exports, Greek yogurt is known for its sour taste and thick consistency.

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