Blood oranges of Etna

Orange groves as the eye, alternating with silvery leaves of olive trees and green prickly pears. A scent of orange blossoms that leaves the air even in winter. On background, on the one hand the blue vastness of the sea, and, on the other, the majestic Etna steaming silhouette, the active volcano largest in Europe, which for us is Sicilian mother and father together, not a source of fear and danger but fertility. It 'amazing sight, the plain of Catania. Do not miss it, even in winter when the horizon is full of orange balls of the fruit Prince of Sicily, the orange. In this corner of the earth, south of the volcano, It grows fertile and cultivated the red orange of Sicily PGI, that in Catania is also called blood orange Etna. One of the most suited areas (others are communes in the provinces of Syracuse and Enna) it is precisely the plain of Catania, located between 200 and 300 meters above sea level, with a warm and sunny weather during the day, cold and dry at night. The blood orange Etna is a unique product in the horticultural scene not only Italian. Its natural pigments (anthocyanins) They are conferred on the pulp and peel due to extreme temperature changes. This is not a red lit, unless you are of the variety crabgrass, the result of a micro pigmentation, to which combines a higher acidity compared to the varieties of oranges.

To know more closely you can follow road that leads to Catania Paterno, through Misterbianco, the height of the territory of Belpasso, visit between November and April, the plant Pannitteri (250 employees), which markets the orange of Sicily PGI under the brand Rosaria. We visited in early January, Every year when the trucks of 20 growers members arrive without interruption for the processing of fresh produce. Here they produce on average between 2500 to 3.000 wagons of oranges a year (a wagon equals one hundred quintals). The oranges following a selection process, quality control as early as by the various growing areas. In the plant the fruits are selected either by hand or automatically, washed, divided according to the size, undergo waxing (to slow the transpiration of the fruit) and packaged.

Oranges brand Rosaria (after the establishment of the organization of producers in 2008) They are marketed in the major signs of the large Italian distribution, especially in the north. The percentage of export Pannitteri Ltd. (which it owns 240 hectares of citrus groves on the thousand total) does not exceed ten percent, Catania but the company is working to develop trade mainly in the countries of northern Europe, in particular Norway and Germany, where there is more attention to the quality. In parallel, continued attention to the world of research product. A ten-year agreement with the CRA, research center in agriculture, has as its objective the selection of the best clones of the orange variety 'Tarot' that is capable of pigment before December, so as to lengthen the period of production, now it limited to seven months a year. The citrus market is complex. Sicily, in particular, It faces strong competition from Spanish products, which are often sold at lower prices. This is also why, the organization of producers (On) It allows you to create a system and have greater commercial strength, able to ensure adequate salaries for all players in the sector. Aurelio Pannitteri, company manager, explains the daily efforts to ensure members a secure income: "The orange Etna" says "is an excellent product of our land, It has great health qualities, and we always want to communicate better ". In the last year, an encouraging sign that rewards these efforts has come from the sharp increase (approximately 30,000 cartons shipped) Online Sales. If you want to try these extraordinary oranges sort them online: 48 hours and you can get your fill of vitamin C.

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