Bronte Dop green pistachio is born only on volcanic soil: is the lava rock, black and sharp, to give pistachio its organoleptic characteristics so appreciated in the world. The harvest of this pistachio is made entirely by hand and is among the most tiring. Trees grow up to 5 meters in height, fruits grow in clusters attached to branches that bend under their weight and release resinous substances. The terrain is rough and rocky, uphill, covered with lava rocks. In this VIDEO I take you with me during the harvest of the green pistachio of Bronte Dop, which affects as per regulating the territories of Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla.
“Per aspera ad astra”: from the difficulties arises a product whose quality has no equal in the world. The green pistachio of Bronte Dop represents less than 1% of the world's pistachio production, but it is the most requested. And lSicily is the only Italian region to have two PDOs (Protected designation of origin) related to pistachio. In the spring of 2021, the Protected Designation of Origin has also been recognized for the pistachio of Raffadali, in the province of Agrigento.
To tell you about this product so symbolic of a territory, Etna, we went to the’Company Organic Pistachio cymbals, led by the President of the Consortium, Enrico Cimbali. A 40-hectare farm, the largest of those belonging to the consortium and one of only two organic farms in the Bronte area. I'm a big fan of pistachio and I use it a lot in the kitchen, where is a indispensable ingredient for many SWEET AND SAVORY RECIPES. I suggest you find inspiration from the Sicilian pistachio recipes reported in my article PISTACHIO: SOURCES, PROPERTY’ and SICILIAN RECIPES.
Bronte Dop's Green Pistachio: disciplinary and production
Pistachio is the fruit of Pistacia Vera, a very long-lived tree (can live up to three hundred years) of the Anacardiaceae family. Originally from the Middle East, was brought to Sicily by the Arabs around 900 AD. And in Sicily he settled beautifully, especially in Bronte, where it grows luxuriant on the 'skiing'’ left by volcanic lava on over 4.000 acres. Pistachio trees are particular. They have hanging and twisted branches similar to those of figs, and deep roots that split the lava stone penetrating deeply. The fruits are in clusters, covered with a rubbery ruby hullo that, when ripe, becomes whitish. Inside the huedback, there is an extremely hard woody shell, that can support a man's weight.
With a maximum yield per hectare of 1,700 kilograms for the product certified to DOP, according to the first estimates of the Consortium, in 2021 about 2 will be collected,4 million kilograms of bronte green pistachio DOP. With an increase of about 20% on the 2019 collection, which was 1,9 million kilograms. Today, almost all the pistachio harvested in Bronte is certified to Dop. The cost of certification, to be paid by the manufacturer, is equal to 0,3 euro cents per kilo.
Bronte Dop green pistachio and pistachio processed in Bronte: Differences
To Bronte, though, we also work on pistachio from other areas of Sicily or Italy that cannot boast of the PDO or from other non-European countries: Syria, Iran, Turkey and California in the first place. These countries are all big pistachio producers, but of lower quality than that of Bronte. Which is distinguished by its small size, elongated shape and color: deep purple on the outside and bright green on the inside. The color of bronte green pistachio is particular and is imitated.
For example, pistachio from abroad is often harvested when it is still unripe to obtain a bright color that resembles that of Bronte to Dop. Today on the market there are products with different names: “Sicilian pistachio”, “Pistachio” or “green gold of Bronte” but do not have the stamp and the mark of the PDO . Then, when you buy Bronte pistachio without the DOP sticker it is right to know that this product must have a significantly lower price than the “Green pistachio by Bronte Dop”, which is much more valuable.
Companies that produce pistachios are limited to selling the natural product whole in shell, shelled or peeled, grained, in flour or neutral paste. It is not subjected to salting or roasting. Remember then that there is no green pistachio of Bronte Dop 'salty', aperitif. These products are made with generic pistachio. It would be a huge waste to use the PDO brand product for this purpose.
Almost all semi-finished products, from pesto to spreadable cream, are made by processing companies. Is, to be sure that they are made with bronte dop green pistachio, even these products must have the PDO sticker, what you see in the VIDEO.
Bronte Dop's Green Pistachio: harvesting and processing
The Bronte Dop green pistachio harvest is biennial, that is, it takes place once every two years. In the years “download” the buds are eliminated by hand to strengthen the plant that, according to the rules of the production specification, cannot be irrigated. This technique allows you to get a more abundant and qualitatively superior harvest the following year. The harvest starts at the end of August and continues for the entire month of September. Is’ a collection made entirely by hand, with Italian and foreign workers. The fruit must be processed in the same day.
After the pistachio is harvested and put in bags, is mechanically cleaned of leaves and branches. Then, pistachio is washed in water, with a rubbing mechanism to eliminate the huft. Finally, pistachios are placed in a tank filled with water that acts as a separator. Empty pistachios float, while the full ones settle on the bottom. Everything happens within a few hours of harvesting.
Wet pistachios must dry: when weather conditions allow, drying takes place in the sun in a natural way. As in Pantelleria you can see in September expanses of Zibibbo grapes among the fields, so even in Bronte you can see expanses of pistachios. A show to admire and photograph. Under the heat of the Sicilian sun, pistachios remain from 2 to 7 days. Alternatively, are dried with dryers for 16-18 hours, at a temperature of 65 degrees. Then they are exposed to a jet of cold air.
At this point all that remains is to do, once again by hand, the selection of the best pistachios. The green pistachio of Bronte Dop is preserved with the shell, in cool and dry places. This because, despite being marketed mainly peeled, pistachio better preserves its organoleptic characteristics and its color if it is stored with the shell. This is why it is peeled’ only on order.
Pistachio: nutritional characteristics and properties
Pistachios, like all nuts, have a high caloric content: about 570 calories per 100 grams. Obviously the data refers to the natural pistachio, unsa salted. Pistachios are rich in monounsaturated fats, the so-called good fats that help regulate the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Therefore they contribute to favor a correct cardio circulation. In addition to good fats, pistachios contain numerous anti-oxidant substances such as lutein, zeaxanthin (useful against macular degeneration), beta-carotene and tocophenols. They also contain vitamin E, B1, B5 and B6 and mineral salts including potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and magnesium. You can learn more about the topic by reading my article PISTACHIO: ORIGINS AND PROPERTIES’ .
Where to buy pistachio and taste pistachio specialties in Bronte
If you are in Bronte, you can buy the green pistachio of Bronte directly at the company's headquarters Organic Pistachio cymbals, which also organizes visits to the camps, during the harvest period, and tastings. If you want to try sweets based on green pistachio of Bronte Dop I recommend the pastry conti gallenti, on the main street of Bronte. Cannoli, cream puffs, Baba, stuffed rolls, baskets of shortcrust pastry and dry biscuits based on pistachio or with pistachio cream. And a great ice cream. Finally, if you prefer salty, book at the restaurant Walled fountain and don't miss the pistachio beef fillet, the trofie, bruschetta and pistachio cake. Strictly Dop.
photo, texts and videos by
Ada Parisi and Gianluca Atzeni