Travel tips - Kitchen

The pistachio from Bronte, Siciliy’s "green gold" 

Written by Redazione , 05/07/19

Sicily is a land rich in both history and culture. It is surrounded by a crystal clear sea and adorned with unique architectural beauties which are known throughout the world. But there is also another thing that makes Sicily -  and in particular the city of Bronte -  a truly special island: the pistachio

The city of Bronte is located at the foot of Mount Etna and is the ideal habitat for the pistachio.  Unparalleled characteristics are available in this area: a "lava soil", above all, which is  continuously fertilized by volcanic ashes. These conditions are optimal for an outcome of a quality fruit that contains an intense green color and an extraordinary aroma.


Beautiful just like emeralds

Of all the other types of pistachios that are present on the market, the Bronte pistachio certainly stands out for its particular flavor. It is an important source of income for the city - so much so that it is nicknamed "green gold" by the Sicilians.

Technically, it is an oily seed which originates from a small tree that has thin tangled branches. This also makes cultivation difficult. The plants then grow on uneven rocky terrain, and need to be harvested by hand and without the use of any kind of machinery.

The farmer peel them from their shell and place them to dry under the sun for two or three days after having harvested the fruits. Successively, they remove the thin, dark red skin which they are covered with, thus discovering the intense,full-bodied green color provided by the chlorophyll.


When picking the pistachios

The Bronte pistachio obtained the protected designation of origin in 2009. Picking the pistachios takes place at the end of the summer between August and September, but only in alternate years: one year the harvest is held, the following year the a few sprouted buds are removed in order to make the plant explode during the following season. The small trees do not need to be fertilized or irrigated. They care for themselves, and need very little.

Hints of the pistachio history

The pistachio, whose name derives from the Greek Pistàkion, has a long history: there are testimonies dating back to the Old Testament. In Sicily it is said that production increased when the Arabs took over the Island from the Byzantines, so much so that nowadays more than 4000 hectares of Trinacria are cultivated with the pistachio.

Benefits of the pistachio

This small fruit also contributes to keeping our body in perfect health. According to experts, it reduces the risk factors that could affect the cardiovascular system, including type 2 diabetes. It promotes the reduction of bad cholesterol and raises the positive one, and more importantly,  this fruit also protects us against the possible development of viral diseases.

Pistachios are cholesterol free

Thirty grams of pistachios contain only 13 grams of fat, of which only a minimal part is considered saturated fat; the rest is composed of "good" fats and fundamental nutrients such as: potassium, vitamin E and proteins. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and contain a substantial amount of mineral salts.

How to make use of the pistachio

In Sicily the use of pistachio has no limits. The only limits are imposed by one’s imagination.

In Bronte, the fruit is not only used to produce ice cream and sauces: but also to season many different types of pasta. At the numerous pastry shops, it is used to make sublime pistachio biscuits but also to adorn chocolate, creams, and all kinds of nougats.
In the delicatessen industry it is used as one of the main ingredients to produce a fine mortadella.

[Andy Walther/Pixabay]

If the fruit is granulated, it is also used to for cakes and other desserts.

The products that contain the pistachio are really numerous. So numerous, in fact, that every year in Sicily there is also a famous festival dedicated to the fruit which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world and who are fascinated by the taste of the many delicacies available.

Of course, pistachios can also be bought naturally and munched on raw both at home or accompanying a nice aperitif...


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