Pistachio, a delight for the palate to be enjoyed on your next trip to Sicily!
Pistachio, Bronte’s green gold, represents a great economic resource for Sicily. Much of the credit goes to the locals, who have been able to discover the real value of the kernels, enhancing their flavour and use. The Bronte Pistachio (“Pistacchio Verde di Bronte” PDO) is famous all over the world and manages to move a huge market with a capacity of 35/40 million euros per year. The producers from the town near Catania are about 5,000 and hold about one hectare of land each.
A great economy, therefore, revolves around this small kernel with particular organoleptic properties, that cannot be found in other nuts of the same type around the world. The pistachio nut, in fact, has found its ideal microclimate in this corner of Sicily, giving the best of itself. The producers take care of the cultivation, harvesting and drying for the elimination of the husk. Once this phase is over, they sell the nuts to the transformation companies: these firms use the raw material to create pistachio-based products, which are highly requested especially in the confectionery industry. Let’s discover the green gold of Bronte and its main characteristics.
The Pistachio Plant
The Bronte Pistachio plant is a variety called “Pistacia vera”. The nuts have been known since prehistoric times and have always found wide use. Although it has been cultivated for millennia throughout the Mediterranean basin, the word “pistachio” appears for the first time in the Old Testament. Subsequently, it has also been mentioned in the Book of Genesis. In local dialect, the plant is called “frastucara“, while the kernel is called “frastuco“. In fact, it seems that these terms are of Arabic origin, “fristach” and “frastuch“, from which the name pistachio was derived, since in the Arabic language they do not use the letter p. However, it was the Arabs who encouraged the cultivation of pistachio after having torn Sicily from the Byzantines. They understood that the island was the most suitable land for the growing of “Pistacia Vera”, thus increasing its plants along the slopes of Mount Etna.
The highly mineral soil and the strong temperature variations are a cure-all for the “Pistacia Vera”. The Pistachio plant is very long-lived: it can go up to 300 years. The stem can grow up to 10-12 metres, even if it stops much earlier. The variety bears fruit in a two-year cycle: years of excessive charge alternate with years of scarcity of fruit. Sicilian growers prefer to eliminate the flowers in the scarce years to increase their yield the following year. In this way, it is possible to obtain a unique product with particular characteristics. Flowering begins in April, while the fruit is harvested around September-October. Pistachio looks like a drupe covered with husk where, inside a woody shell, there is the kernel. Bronte Pistachio is grown in the municipalities of Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla, according to the PDO Regulation, at an altitude between 400 and 600 metres.
Recognition of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)
The recognition of “Pistacchio Verde di Bronte” PDO was obtained in 2009. On June 9 of that year, in fact, the European Union published the Regulation where you can find:
- the name: “Pistacchio Verde di Bronte”
- the description: the product must correspond to the requirements of intense green colour and strong aromatic taste
- the production area is Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla
- the origin must be monitored and certified
- the production land must be of volcanic origin
- the practice of precise cultivation methods, since the tree is very resistant and adapts well to volcanic soils, but fears the spring frost.
As you can understand, the protection of Bronte’s green gold is clear and precise. The uniqueness of this product is obtained by combining typical elements of the territory of origin. The PDO Regulation guarantees the origin and authenticity of Bronte Pistachio.
Organopleptic Properties of Bronte Pistachio nuts
The Bronte Pistachio, therefore, grows in a complex territory characterised by lands with high mineral intake. The volcanic soils along the slopes of Mount Etna give to the fruit particular nutrients that determine its unique taste and nutritional value.
The minerals contained in the pistachio are iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, together with an important group of vitamins B, E and C. Pistachio can be eaten in any diet. It has a high caloric intake, so it is recommended for sportmen. Its regular consumption allows to keep cholesterol levels and cardiovascular diseases under control. This nut also contains antioxidants that keep the skin young.
Holidays to discover Bronte Pistachio, Sicily’s Emerald Green gem
Bronte Pistachio, besides being eaten raw, is used to make many Sicilian dishes.
A trip to Sicily is a great opportunity to get to know Bronte’s green gold up close.
There is an important tourist circuit around the world of Bronte Pistachio. Tourists can get to know the farmers and their work. The local farms open their doors to show the various stages of pistachio processing. The icing on the cake is the opportunity to join a cooking class in Bronte to learn how to enhance this speciality.
At the end of September, during the harvest, the Pistachio Festival is held in Bronte. It is a moment of joyful happiness for both locals and visitors. Delicious sweets such as Sicilian cannoli with pistachio grains, pistachio cake, ice cream, granita and much more will brighten your visit to Sicily.