Famous worldwide are the Kallonis sardines. The two major islands of the region (Lesvos and Lemnos) operate for many years producing and supplying salted fish.
The raw material (sardines) is caught daily from the local fishing boats while the production is done purely with the experience handed down from generation to generation but still using improved modern machinery.
In particular the fish that is caught are sardines, mackerels, and anchovies and are processed in the original and traditional way… only with salt.
What makes the salted fish of the region stand out is first, the quality of fish which is found in the area, and second the climatic conditions and the plankton in the two main bays of Lesvos (Gera and Kalloni).
The producers get the fish from the local fish-market and keep them in a special area with ice. Once the fish are gutted and have the heads removed, they are placed in stainless steel containers with plenty of salt between the layers. The period of time the fish stay in the salt, depends on the type of fish and season.
These containers are constantly getting wet and workers add salt. No preservative is used on any type of fish and the packages are in vacuum. All products are kept refrigerated except for the sardines which are in oil.
The only "enemy" of this industry is the difficulty to find local workers. Very few people are willing to work in an environment where strong smell of fish prevails and where cleaning of the fish is done manually.
In Mytilini only few packing plants are still in operation, which contribute to the development of the region and to local employment. Their production is rather stable.
The Kalloni sardines are mainly marketed in the rest of Greece, not in Mytilene. This is because the locals eat sardines very lightly salted.
They salt their own fish in the morning and consume them within 24 hours.
There is a sardine festival which takes place every summer. People from all over the island gather In the Skala Kalloni square to taste the delicious sardines, offered as grilled, pickled or fried.
The people of Mitilini consume fresh sardines in high volume because it is considered to be one of the most nutritious fish.
When fresh, place the fish in layers on a tray, with lots of coarse salt. In 24 hours or less, depending on individual taste, they are ready for consumption. After removing the heads, the guts and the scales, we are left with the most delicious meze to enjoy with ouzo.
The sardine grows, in small depth in the Gulf of Kalloni, in Lesvos.
This natural habitat, gives it its unique flavor. Fishing season starts early July and goes till October.
The sardine is small in size and thick with a whitish color flesh and no more than 12.5 cm.
Sardines are a highly nutritious fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help in cardiac function, rich in phosphorus and protein.