European Rice produced in Greece

The systematic cultivation of rice in Greece begun in the 50s, when it was introduced as an innovative crop, with the capacity to “rinse” the soil and improve its quality. Since then, Greek rice maintains a dynamic presence both in the domestic market, as well as abroad. Paddies are found primarily in Northern Greece, in the Delta of rivers Axios, Loudias and Haliacmon, but also on the riparian areas of rivers Achelous, Spercheios and Evros.

The Delta of rivers Axios, Loudias and Haliacmon is also part of the European Network of Protected Sites, Natura 2000, while, in addition to this, it is protected by the Ramsar Convention. Many species of birds have been recorded in the Delta, several of which are protected species. Besides its rich avifauna, the protected area is home to many other endangered animals, such as the Eurasian beaver, the Eurasian otter, wolves, and jackals.

Today, the valley of Thessaloniki produces approximately 75% of Greek rice, rending it an agricultural product of special importance for the local economy. Medium grain varieties of Japonica rice, such as Ronaldo, Carolina and Gloria CL, are the preferred varieties for cultivation in Greece and have adapted to the climate of the country.

Mild summers combined with south winds and brackish soils lend special characteristics to the rice, amongst which a high recovery when processed, resulting in losses less than 0.5%, as well as the ideal starch content, which contributes to the preservation of its texture.

Rice produced in Greece has an oval-shaped grain which “captures” moistness when cooked. Its granular shape is preserved during cooking, while it keeps its creamy and velvety texture and thus it is frequently used in dishes with stuffing, such as tomatoes, squids, peppers and courgettes.