Late March and April mark the season of new shoots and fresh greens on the “sweet mountain” of Pelion. After the cold winters, the spring sunshine awakens the earth and the plentiful waters it has stored up give rise to a number of edible shoots and wild greens.
The first to appear are the fern shoots, short and stocky with their tips like capitals of the Ionic order – a classic Pelion delicacy. They are followed by “vergia”, or black bryony, the much-sought-after shoots with multiple uses in cookery. Then, there are wild asparagus tips and terebinth, and rock samphire by the shore. At the same time, wild greens, stinging nettles, sow thistles, chicory, wild radish, sorrel, Mediterranean hartwort, fennel and many more make their appearance.
In May and June, oregano is maturing, and St John’s wort, hawthorn and elderberry are in bloom. Early cherries, sour cherries and greengages can be found in orchards. There are wild strawberries in the forest.
July and August are when cultivated and wild fruit is plentiful. Plums of all sizes and colours, juicy pears, peaches, colourful greengages, white and black figs in the orchards and wild raspberries growing along fences, paths and beaches. We make the most of this season’s abundance to prepare jams and marmalades.
We can also gather oregano and sage from the mountainside, both herbs with an amazing scent and unique medicinal properties.
September and October are the season for harvesting apples and quinces from the orchards, and walnuts and chestnuts from the mountain. It is also time to harvest the grapes.
But even in November and December, Mt Pelion has something to offer. There is winter loquat and golden persimmons that can be used to decorate Christmas trees.