Piennolo Tomatoes of Vesuvius PDO
The tomato originated in the South Central America and was brought by the Spaniards to Europe in the second half of 1500. Italian climate offered extremely favorable conditions for its growing and , in particular, in the south of the country. Even today it is called ” red gold” , the tomato has changed over time developing in many varieties .
The most characteristic type of tomato, for its taste and shape, grown in the area of the National Park of Vesuvius is the ” Piennolo ” (Pendant), which has the typical lace at the bottom end and a sweet and sour taste, as well as a slightly bitter aftertaste , conferred by the abundance of sugar and mineral salts present in it.
The Piennolo tomatoes are processed on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, on terraces between 200 and 300 meters above sea level, and derive the greatest benefit from the volcanic soil and the absence of irrigation, as well as warm and sunny climate lasting practically all year long. In addition to this, the wise and ancient art of the farmers using wooden support posts and a few yards of twine, which prevent tomatoes from touching the ground and helping them to ripe evenly to a fiery red color .
The typical characteristic of this tomato is also the fact that tomatoes are harvested just before ripening in clusters ( also known as ” schiocche ” ), which are plaited into kind of braids (“piennoli”) held together by a thread of hemp and placed a dry and ventilated place for a slow maturation . Cultivated practically without water, these tomatoes have a very thick peel and have a limited dehydration which allows to preserve them and consume in winter periods and, in some cases , even up to the next harvest.
Protected Designation of Origin
The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is a prestigious brand of legal protection which is given by the European Union to food whose characteristics depend primarily or exclusively from the area where they were produced.
The PDO “Piennolo Tomato of Vesuvius” was recognized in 2009 and Mealitaly, choosing only high quality products, has created a set of first-fruits that are based on tomato PDO.
PIENNOLO OF VESUVIUS PDO TOMATO PUREE
Tomato is a part of an old tradition, now almost disappeared – to prepare homemade tomato puree. It was a real rite in all families with assigning special tasks what to do to each member. There were people who had to wash the bottles (normally empty bottles of beer were reused), others selected ripe vegetables, the elder members – usually experts – were responsible for the slight pre-cooking (which served to initiate the transformation with the help of homemade machines in order to separate the peel from the pulp), and finally the responsable for pouring the puree into bottles (preferably with a few basil leaves to flavor the preserves). There was, finally, the person engaged in final cooking of tomato puree that was performed in large cans filled with water for a proper sterilization.
PIENNOLO OF VESUVIUS PDO “PACCHETELLE” TOMATO
The Piennolo Vesuvius PDO Tomato is a part of the ancient Neapolitan tradition, so important to be seen in the Neapolitan cribs, hanging out on the balconies of the houses.
Tomatoes are usually eaten fresh or canned in glass jars, according to an ancient recipe of tomatoes “in pacchetelle” (packed), also referred to as DOP.
The tomatoes are cut into slices and then put in a jar and beaten on a cloth to settle in better down untill filling the jar, adding then a pinch of salt for the next phase of cooking and pasteurization.
The Pacchetelle reminds us of a time gone by and brings back the taste, as well as knowledge, memories of an authentic and genuine past.
STUFFED TOMATOES WITH TUNA OLIVES AND CAPERS
The Piennolo Tomato is so unique that its flavor is perfect if eaten raw, only with the addition of a pinch of salt, just plucked from the bunch of tomatoes hanging in the kitchen.
Its special taste, however, can be enriched adding other ingredients to create a perfect combination with other strong and tantalizing flavors.
A typical product of South Italy rustic custom , dried tomatoes are the kind of food that contains within it all the southern sun – lots of sun – shining on these lands. A slow drying process that takes several days, preserves the organoleptic characteristics which remain almost unchanged thanks to this natural dehydration.