The hot and sweet peppers of Almopia ripen at the end of the season, in September. After being washed and hand-sorted, the fruits are slow-dried on birchwood for 10 days. During this period, the farmers work in shifts guarding the fire night and day, making sure it never goes out. The richly colored, aromatic peppers are then de-stemmed and crushed manually, giving life to the spice collectively known as “Boukovo.”
Pleasantly smoky, sweet, mellow, and with a lasting flavor, these pepper flakes form an ideal backbone for stews, soups, and sauces. They are typically paired with pulses or sprinkled over baked Feta cheese. A perfect companion for avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, but equally gratifying on a soft-boiled egg.
Peppers play a predominant role in the culinary history of Northern Greece, with numerous local varieties claiming a special place in the kitchen. One of the most noteworthy is the sweet and mildly hot red peppers grown for spice in Almopia since the times of the Ottoman Empire. Karatzova peppers were left behind in the 1980s, as more profitable crops made their presence and farmers turned away from traditional agriculture. The Daphnis and Chloe suppliers are among the few cultivating this crop nowadays.