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The siccagno tomato: red gold of Sicily

by Ada Parisi
5 min read
Il pomodoro siccagno siciliano

The tomato siccagno It is called “red gold of Sicily”: Grows without water , “in dry”, in the Sicilian hinterland, at an average altitude of 800 meters above sea level. Here, in the lower Madonie, summers are very hot and dry. With temperatures that exceed 40 degrees during the day, but with a good temperature range between day and night. Its cultivation is very ancient, but he ran the risk of being forgotten. Is’ Slow Food from 2012 with the name of Pomodoro Siccagno della Valle del Bilìci. Is’ cultivated between Marianopolis, Valledolmo, Sclafani Baths, Alia, Hotel Vallelunga and Villalba, between the provinces of Palermo and Caltanissetta. In this VIDEO on my YouTube channel you can see the cultivation and processing of tomato siccagno. And if in September you want to take a Sicilian holiday to discover the cultural and gastronomic wonders of my island, have a look to 8 SICILIAN ITINERARIES NOT TO BE MISSED.

Sicilian siccagno tomato: taste and characteristics

The expression “tomato siccagno” indicates a production method and not a type of tomato. The variety of choice for the production of tomato siccagno, the red gold of Sicily, is the pizzutello tomato. Other typical local varieties are a small round tomato, a rided tomato and a type of datterino tomato. Collective, a red and intense color that reflects the long stay in the sun. Due to the heat and lack of water, plants are low, Suffering, with few fruits. For the same reason, though, the result of this type of cultivation is unique in the world: in these tomatoes everything is more intense and concentrated. From vitamins (A and C) to the sugar content up to antioxidants. In particular, the lycopene content of Sicilian red gold is three times higher than that of a normal tomato.

Sicilian siccagno tomato

The Rinascita cooperative and the Sicilian red gold

In our tour to Sicily in the hinterland of the lower Madonie, between wheat fields, olive trees and vineyards, we were at the cooperative Rinascita di Valledolmo, founded in 1977. Created to protect the income of a vast pool of local farmers who grew the siccagno tomato, the Cooperative today directly transforms the tomato siccagno in the past, Retrieved, Peeled, ready-made sauces. Both branded and on behalf of third parties (for 30%). So, thanks to an agreement with some distribution chains, the red gold of Sicily manages to arrive on the tables of all Italy.

Last year about 8 were transformed.000 quintals of tomato siccagno: during a good year the siccagno yields between 80 and 100 quintals per hectare. Is, in total, the cultivated hectares are about 80: a niche production but representative of a territory that has always been dedicated to agriculture. The summer of 2021, though, will be remembered as a vintage to forget. The very high daytime temperatures, with the night heat, protracts for days, have severely damaged the cultivation of tomatoes. As well as that of the vine and olive trees.

The harvest of tomatoes, that mature to climb, that is, not all in the same period (but still between the end of July and the end of September), it is made entirely by hand. The tomato is then processed within 24 hours of harvesting: is selected, based on calibers and types, washed, blanched, peeled and then transformed into a pass, Peeled, Retrieved.

Sicilian siccagno tomato

The video of the production and processing of siccagno tomato

Farmers, though, already looking to the future: within the year a Protection consortium to carry out the request of the PDO (Protected designation of origin). In this VIDEO on my YouTube channel you can see the cultivation and processing of tomato siccagno, with a short interview with Vincenzo Pisa, young president of the cooperative Rinascita. Vincenzo is convinced that he has a unique product in his hands, able to become one of the symbols of agri-food made in Sicily in the world. In addition to representing a valuable income for local farmers.

The fields of tomatoes, sunburned, they are noticeable just in the middle of the vast plots of wheat and olive trees. Valledolmo is a fascinating territory, where a fragrant and high-level pasta is produced, the Vallolmo (Italy), made with 100% Sicilian wheat. Tumminia is grown here (timilia), perciasacchi and russello. In addition to a rich production of legumes which has its spearhead in the lentils of Villalba, also a Slow Food Presidium. Pasta therefore, and tomato: the essence of 'Sicilian eating', not to mention Italian.

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