Tag Archives: Yatak

The lemon caves of Cappadocia, Turkey

capp1Cappadocia, a region in the Central Anatolia, Turkey, is an area of other-worldly rock formations, fairy chimneys, ancient underground cities and  Byzantine cave churches.

capp2We had visited many of these fascinating sites over three days in the area when I happened upon a guide book describing yet another use for these natural caves, with their consistently moderate temperatures: storing lemons (and sometimes other produce, such as potatoes).

okanI persuaded our generous host, Okan Yazgan (from Aravan Evi) , to take me to see one of these lemon storage caves, and he kindly agreed to drive us to Ortahisar, where many of these caves are located. He stopped to ask a student, returning home after school, where we might find one of these caves. (Thank you, Okan, for taking me on this important lemon quest!)

lemoncaveentryThe entrance to the lemon storage cave, beneath some farmland, was quite indistinct, and nearly impossible to see from the road nearby. It seemed like a secret cave.

lemoncave1It was a hot day, but the cave was cool and dark, with strings of electric lights illuminating an amazing scene: piles of lemon boxes stacked to the rock ceiling, women in headscarves packing the lemons into boxes.

lemoncaveboxesThe lemons are not grown here, but are shipped from the coast and stored here for about five months before being sent to a plant for more cleaning, sorting and packing before sale.  There are about 600 or 700 such caves in Cappadocia, the foreman told us.

lemoncavepackerEventually the lemons, known as “Yatak,” are sold to Russia, Georgia, Iraq and Europe.

lemoncavepackersIt looks like the lemon-packers could bring their children with them to the job.

lemoncaveventholeVentilation holes had been drilled into the cave’s ceiling.

lemoncavechimneysUp above the cave, in an orchard, were the chimneys for ventilation — about the only surface sign of the activity below!

lemonsuperI’d never heard of lemons being stored in caves, but it makes sense, as the temperature is so consistent. I just keep finding out more and more about those fascinating lemons!

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