Chios is called "myrovolos", meaning fragrant. That should not surprise you, since the fragrances of Kambos surround you from the very first moment you begin strolling through the green nucleus of the island. Narrow streets, high stone walls, thick, green leaves will emerge everywhere and surround you with their precious aroma.
The cultivation of citrus trees was a new culture imported by the Genoans (1348-1566), who were cruel conquerors yet clever traders. As soon as they realized that the evergreen trees thrive on the water enriched soil deposits, they started to import them from Italy. Kambos exhibited these characteristics primarily, and was thereby transformed into a huge, orange orchard. The Chians also imported orange trees from Africa, since the tree's cultivation was so successful. It is worth noting here that the tangerine trees were not imported by the Genoans, as many people want to believe, but by the Chian family of Horemi who imported them from India around 1860-62. They were first cultivated in the family's orchard and were then planted in Kambos.
Kambos is a region where the water deposits favor the cultivation of the "Esperides' Golden Apples", as the ancient Greeks used to call the oranges. When one wanders the various paths of Kambos, one can use their sense of smell and imagination to 'see' the orchards through the huge, stone walls that surround them in order to keep the south winds and the winter's cold away. The trees are extremely sensitive to cold weather and high winds. The cultivators have paid a high price as a result of this sensitivity and have suffered major losses. Their experience has taught them to light small fires in between the trees on their estates in order to generate warmth and protect the trees. The leaves of the trees also create a green 'roof' that keeps the warmth of the fire between them and thus, protect the crop.
The cultivators collect the fruits one by one and put them into boxes. Tangerine collection begins in November, while oranges are collected in December. The cultivators either sell their "golden fruits" or bring them to the Agricultural Association of Chios' Citrus Cultivators and to other small sized manufactures in order to produce juice. For centuries, fruits were sold by piece. The collectors put them in groups of five and delivered them to traders. The German conquerors introduced the weighing method and it was so practical that it is stil used today.
Chian tangerines are unique and they are considered to be a distinguished variety. Grocery stores and farm stands sell these fruits as "Chian tangerines".
Chios' citrus fruits were exported to Constantinople (Istanbul) to the Black Sea, to Izmir, to Egypt and to the East by dealers that were freighting ships especially for that reason. Since 1930, as soon as the Associations first appeared, the Chians were also exporting to the countries of Eastern Europe.
Citrus fruits are not only consumed as fruits. The Agricultural Association of Chios' Citrus Cultivators and to other small sized manufactures use these precious treasures to produce refreshments and fresh juices. Homemakers, as well as large manufacturers also make spoon sweets and essential oils from these fruits.