Originating from South Eastern Asia, citrus production in modern sense started in the US in 19th century, and rapidly spread. Citrus is cultivated between the 40 degrees north and south latitudes on the world. Citrus is the widely cultivated and consumed fruit group all over the world. Citrus includes plant types such as orange, lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit. Fruits of such plants are benefited as food, and the volatile oil used in perfumes for giving odor is obtained from their peels, leaves and blossoms. In 2007, the Turkish Citrus Promotion Group was founded in Hatay by entrepreneur Ali Kıvrak. Mostly lemons, tangerines, oranges, petitgrains and citrons are cultivated in Hatay.
Orange: With a total production of 279,585 tons, Hatay ranks as the 2nd biggest Orange (Washington) cultivator in Turkey. Orange (Washington) cultivation in our city comprises 20.59% of the total production in Turkey.
Cultivated in the Mediterranean Region in Turkey, especially in Hatay, this type is stored in the natural caves in Ürgüp and Göreme, and known to be ripe and juicy.
Turkey is the primary cultivator of this type all over the world, especially in Eastern Mediterranean region, in Hatay. Growing ripe really early, this lemon has the biggest share in the lemon export of Turkey.
Tangerine: Hatay ranks the 1st in tangerine production with a total 402,601 tons. This comprises 50.64% of the total production in Turkey.
Bitter Orange: Called citrus aurantium in Latin, bitter orange is listed under the citrus family, and remarked due to its resemblance to orange. It is used both in jam making and desserts in Hatay.
Citron: Being a member of citrus family, growing in Hatay region and resembling to lemon, this fruit is as big as a melon, and is sour. Decreasing the sour taste of citron and flavoring it is a long and tedious process. It is scarcely found, mainly in Antakya, and there are limited number of citron trees. It arrived Hatay from India through the Spice Road. Its peel and inner fruit part are cut into pieces, and used in salad or sauce making with salt and olive oil. Citron jam and desserts are also made.
Coming from India to America Continent, and then to Spain in the 16th century, pepper arrived Egypt over Morocco, and all the way to Hatay Samandağ through İskenderun port, and emerged as Samandağ Pepper with the characteristic soil and whether conditions here in Samandağ.
Samandağ pepper is a tick skinned, juicy and a highly hot pepper type. Growing only in Samandağ district of Antakya, this pepper is hottest of the hot.
Characteristics of Samandağ Pepper
Samandağ pepper is cultivated during the transition period between spring and summer, grows in Samandağ in June and July. What separates it from other peppers is that it is very hot. There are veins and flakes inside. It is hotter, thicker, bigger, has more red flashy parts then common hot peppers, and has 3 or 4 yellow veins.
When Samandağ pepper is cultivated not in summer but in winter, it takes a longer time to grow, and it becomes greener. Cultivated in summers, Samandağ peppers are dark green color at first, and can turn into red when they ripe in time. Having a hard and fleshy structure, these peppers can be stored in fridges as well as being preserved in sunless places for long periods. When stored in fridges or outdoors, peppers starting to get softer can be consumed fresh, in dishes, or grilled on embers.
Since Samandağ pepper is a traditional specie, its existence can be maintained through buying its seeds. Peppers of same quality can be cultivated every year with these seeds. Seeds collected from the peppers are stored in room temperature, without exposure to moisture, dampness and light. Since its seeds are traditional, seeds must be collected at the end of the season in order to maintain its existence. With the traditional seed preservation and cultivating method carried out for hundreds of years, Samandağ pepper taken up its own place in Turkey, even has been subject of books due to its effects on losing weight (Mesut Yar (JOURNALIST/WRITER)-ACI REÇETEYLE TATLI SON-2011).
Thyme is a plant that is a member of labiatae family, growing naturally. Benefiting from sun and heat, this plant spreads rapidly on rocky and hilly areas with hot soil. Thus it is slightly different than the regular thyme. It is also known as black thyme and mountain thyme. It has a really strong, and even a bitterish taste and odor. It grows wildly in the Central and Southern Anatolia. It originates from Amanos Mountains. It has two types. One grows during summers, while the other grows in winters. It is an approximately 50cm long plant with pink blossoms. It contains volatile oil and tannin This plant is collected and sun-dried along with its blossoms, and then pulverized. It is consumed as spice and tea. And it is the main ingredient of the regional “Thyme Salad” made in Hatay. After sun-dried, it is used in dishes as a spice, as well as being used while marinating meats. It can be stored for up to 1 year when brined with olive oil and salt. It is collected in April and May, and sun-dried and used as a spice. In can be frozen when fresh, but it darkens its color. Thyme tea is highly consumed in Hatay region.
Dried Thyme came Egypt through the Spice Road, and then arrived to Lebanon and Hatay. It is consumed with olive oil. Use the following ingredients while preparing dried thyme: It is mixed with Roasted Chickpea, Watermelon Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Anise, Terebinth, Cumin, Sumac, Cilantro, Black Pepper, Lemon Salt, Flaked Red Pepper, Sesame, and Salt.
Thanks to the ideal environment provided by the soil structure and climate of Hatay, this region as been recognized as the motherland of olive for thousands of years.
Obtained from the undying tree and doing wonders, olive oil made of olives of Altınözü region, known as the olive oil region for centuries, will attract those who taste it with a passion due to its unique and strong aroma. The real reason behind this unique aroma is that olive trees in Altınözü region are nourished with the Mediterranean breezes.
Olive, which is the sacred fruit of olive tree originating from Eastern Mediterranean region and Antakya, is nourished with the moist breezes from Mediterranean Sea and the fertile soils in on the sides of Hatay, and is oiled with the plenteous rains in October. When harvest season arrives in November, Halhalı olives, which are completely indigenous, are pick up one by one without damaging the tree or its branches, and then crushed and skimmed off also with traditional methods. According to the date of 2016, there are 4,700,000 yielding olive trees in Altınözü, while the figure is 13,300,000 in Hatay.
LİFE OF A OLİVE TREE
Olives that grow on their own without being cultivated is called wild olive or oleaster. Oleaster can be made more productive by turning it into a cultivated plant through grafting and tempering, Olive trees planted as a sapling do not grow taproots and can easily be felled. However, naturally growing seed-borne olive trees have taproots, and cannot be easily uprooted.
Olive tree is an invaluable tree with a golden oil obtained from the fleshy parts and seeds of its fruit. If cultivated under favorable conditions, it will become yielding within 5-6 years after planting. It takes up to 20 years for an olive tree to become fruitful, and it gradually increases. 35-150 years is the ripe and fully productive period of the tree. And then, it lives for hundreds of years. It has a really long life span. When it gets old, of course its productivity decreases.
While an olive tree yields abundantly one year, the next year it rests, so to speak, and its productivity decreases. In other words, it yields abundantly one year, and scarcely the next year. This is called Periodicity. This situation is named as the years with or without yield among local people.
1st Altınözü Olive Harness Festival was held in 2013 with the joint work of Altınözü District Governorship and Zeytindostu Society.
Olive Types Peculiar to Hatay:
These are the low in salt, fleshy black olives with small seeds, and are left to dry on its own. Halhalı soil type Hatay Attun Olives, harvested from Hatay’s villages, are brought to tables after being pick up one by one through traditional methods. This olive is known as Attun in Hatay, and as Basket olive outside Hatay.
Our indigenous Halhalı olives are harvested carefully in November, when they are oily and and ripe the most. They are steeped for days with the traditional causticization method. Flavored olives are brined and potted.
Contrary to other olives, Halhalı olives growing in Hatay are smaller, fleshy, and they have smaller seeds. Harvested towards the middle of September, halhalı is an olive type with a high economic value.
They are traditionally cracked on stones one by one with mallets, and then steeped for days. Flavored through changing its water every other day, olives are then brined and potted.
Best cracked olives are made of halhalı olives, and the reason behind it is that in Aegean Region, oily olives are used in olive production, and only less oily olives are consumed as cracked olives.