Distillation of souma

The distillation of figs, the renowned “souma”, is a unique product, made in Chios, and its distillation is considered as a great social event. “Kazanisma”, as distillation is called in the local dialect, is a festivity followed by centuries of tradition and it is an open invitation to friends and visitors.

Every year, from the end of October to Christmas, the process of the annual souma production takes place in many local distilleries. If anyone desires to participate, they should address to one of those distilleries. Every producer wants the visitors to taste his products, and of course there are always delicacies and music.

The process is the following: In August begins the fig gathering and when it is finished, these figs are left to dry up by the sun. In the middle of October figs are transferred to the distilleries, where they are placed in barrels containing water and a small quantity of yeast. They are left there for about two weeks, so that fungi are developed and fermentation takes place.

When the preparation stage is over, the actual process of distillation begins. The figs are placed in bronze stills, i.e. caldrons, which boil for approximately three to three and a half hours. Depending on the producer’s tastes, aromatic fruits, such as apples, citrus fruits and aniseed can be added. Of course, a small quantity of mastic can be added as well. Fire evaporates alcohol, essential oils from herbs and water. The steam is transferred through a copper pipe, ending into a tank filled with water, where it is cooled and thus souma exits the pipe.

The very first distillation is too strong, and this is why they used the first 1-2 liters as rubbing alcohol in the past. The distillation continues until the alcohol strength reaches a certain point. After that, the distillation process is finished and the producer can proceed to the next one. Moreover, this distillation can be placed in the caldron again, with new herbs. This is called “metapsima”. The alcohol strength of the second distillation is even more increased and the aromas are stronger.


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Try local delicacies and meet the locals


Learn about the product that makes Chios unique