In the Bilìci valley, in Italian Belìci, summers are very hot and dry, often reaching 40° C, and winters are mild. This microclimate means that the cultivations which for centuries have characterized the agricultural economy of this area are of very high quality: wheat – first of all timilìa, long spelt (called perciasacchi), russello, senator Cappelli and legumes – the Villalba lentil in particular, which finds in this area its territory of election, but also broad beans and chickpeas.
Not to mention its excellent tomatoes, which in these soils rich in potassium grow particularly sweet. The shape is elongated with a pointed apex (called pizzutello). Some of them are cultivated without irrigation (in the local dialect, “siccagni”) and with them, in the past, was produced an excellent concentrate, passata and dried tomatoes.
To the harvesting and to the transformation participated all the family. The tomatoes were picked during the day and processed in the evening. A part was put aside as a preserve, the rest was destined to make concentrate.
The concentrate (l’astrattu) was made in September, during the period of maximum production of tomatoes. To make the astrattu, the puree was left to dry in the sun on wooden boards (maìdde).
The children were in charge of the arriminata (turned), that is for the whole day they had to turn it, at sunset it was recovered (it was done the arricugghiuta), it was rolled up with hands greased with oil and it was put in big jars or it was preserved in oiled paper.
Siccagno is interesting not only for the tradition connected to its processing, but also for its organoleptic and nutritional profile. Rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as antioxidants such as lycopene, it also has a low content of calories. It is very tasty, so much that passata can also be cooked without salt.
In the communes of Marianopoli, Villalba, Valledolmo and Scaflani Bagni every family of farmers cultivated tomatoes in dry land, kept its own seeds, jealously guarding them, and often called them with the name of the head of the family. Time passing this local variety was replaced by modern hybrids, more productive (brigade, interpeel), so that until recently the traditional Siccagni tomatoes were thought to be completely lost. After long researches and some unsuccessful attempts, it was found a producer of Villalba who still preserves an ancient local seed which he reproduces every year in his company.
The Presidium is currently composed of just one organic producer, Francesco Di Gèsu from Villalba. He will make his seeds available to a larger group of producers who, starting next season, will increase the current two hectares cultivated with Siccagno tomatoes, in the hope that climatic conditions will not penalize cultivation too much, as has happened in recent seasons.
Together with the cultivation of an ancient and very tasty tomato, the Presidium intends to promote processed products (first of all the passata, but also the triple concentrate and the dried tomatoes) which, thanks to the quality of the raw material, reach levels of absolute excellence, thus guaranteeing local growers an important integration to their agricultural income.
Az.Agr. Pisa, di Pisa Rosa, Contrada Crete, 90029 Valledolmo (Pa), Tel. +39 3200575768, email@example.com