The so-called “kazanemata” or “rakokazana” (the whole process of producing the raki or tsikoudia) are made in specially designed areas where the cauldron has a prominent position. The cauldron varies with its distillation potential.
The “strafylla” or “tsikouda” are the pressed grapes (peels and seeds) destined for the tsikoudia. After pressing, they are stored for about 40 days in barrels where their fermentation is done. When they get ready, they are put in the cauldron with water. Underneath a wood fire is lit and the “tsikouda”begin to simmer. The fire must have the proper intensity so that the “tsikouda”do not burn and smell bad..
Distillation takes place in front of the attendants’ eyes and all of them join in the whole process, actuating a celebration!
It is worth mentioning that the custom of “rakokazana” was instituted by Eleftherios Venizelos in 1920 when licenses for “rakoakazana” were granted to Cretan farmers.
Around a “rakokazano”, 2 to 100 people can gather together. Everybody is singing (usually “Mandinades”, cretan folk songs) and dancing while amateur musicians, give their best for one or even two wonderful nights, always accompanied by lyre and raki.
The table is full of local traditional products and dishes such as, “oftes papates” (whole potatoes with their peel grilled in hot ash), chargrilled sausages, “antikristo” (lamb meat griiled in a special way), while many times there are also on te table fresh walnuts, chestnuts, pomegranates, apples and quinces.