In German-speaking Switzerland, drying fruit and vegetables has always been a widely used preservation method, particularly during the Second World War when every piece of arable land was used to provide sufficient food for the population. Apples, pears, wild fruit, potatoes and green beans were harvested while still hard, then cleaned, boiled and dried to provide a nutritious supply of protein and minerals during the winter months.
Until the mid-20th century, potatoes were the most common vegetable, however in the 1950s protein and mineral-rich green beans regained popularity. Particularly in the cantons of Berne, Basel, Zurich, Solothurn, Schwyz and St Gallen, it was customary to harvest green beans and transform them into Dörrbohnen (dried beans).
Preparing Dörrbohnen is simple and involves gentle drying at temperatures below 30°C. When dried, the beans can be stored for up to two years and must be soaked for a few hours before cooking.
This traditional and natural preservation method enables tasty nutritious meals to be prepared at any time of the year. Dörrbohnen are found in all types of central and northern Swiss cuisine, whether in humble soup dishes or the more-refined Bernerplatte, meats cuts or sausages, served with boiled vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, cabbage and green beans.
The recent industrialization of the drying process and introduction of higher-yield foreign hybrids have put the survival of this old tradition at risk.
The Dörrbohnen Presidium was created to preserve the native bean varieties and promote the artisanal drying of the product, thereby protecting the authenticity of the traditional regional recipes. The Presidium brings together a group of producers, three involved in growing and two with drying, who exclusively grow native varieties of green beans, such as Berner Landfrau, Saxa, Limka and Victoire.
Berne, Basel, Zurich, Solothurn, Schwyz and St Gallen cantons (German-speaking Switzerland)
Farina bóna is a traditional corn flour produced in the Onsernone Valley, one of the poorest and most inaccessible parts of the Canton of Ticino. The distinctive flavor of the flour is obtained by toasting the corn kernels and grinding the grain very finely, using special grinders such as those still found around Vergeletto, a municipality in Ticino with a population of just 90 people.
The origin of Farina bóna is not known, but several elderly inhabitants of Vergeletto still remember the similar farina sec’a, which was produced by Signora Annunziata Terribilini until she died in 1958. Known as Nunzia, she prepared this flour by toasting the corn kernels in a pan until they popped and then grinding them, as opposed to the typical farina verda flour that was ground without being toasted.
Farina bóna was once an important part of the daily diet in the Onsernone Valley and was eaten mixed with water or milk (hot or cold), and with blueberries, strawberries or wine. However, changing food habits after the Second World War progressively reduced its importance. Production ended when the last miller in valley stopped working at the end of the 1960s.
Valle Onsernone, Ticino canton
Presidium supported by
In some parts of the Alps-Valle d’Aosta, the French Rhône Alps and the northwestern Swiss cantons-the extraction of
walnut oil is still common practice today. This reﬂects the widespread tradition of producing plant-based oils other than olive oil, characteristic of the countries north of the Alps. These oils were cheaper than butter, and the use of walnut oil in the kitchen has a long history.
Walnut cultivation is no longer considered a profitable agricultural activity. Many walnut groves have been abandoned for years, and only a few families continue to tend their own trees. Safeguarding the production of oil allowed the revival of some cultivation in the Vaud canton, where the tradition is still very strong. A few thousand walnut trees have been replanted, and Switzerland’s most important extraction mill is active here. The canton of Vaud produces 90 percent of all of the country’s walnut oil, but the tradition has also survived in the neighboring cantons, where the mills process small quantities for the local population or for family consumption. The walnuts for the oil are grown by individuals or small-scale local growers.
The Presidium wants to support this activity, informing consumers about this centuries-old tradition, to safeguard the walnut trees and keep this local economy alive.
Vaud, Bern, Solothurn, Aargau and Zurich cantons
Presidium supported by
With its narrow valleys and flat expanses, the Tafeljura plateau presents an attractive green setting for impressive rows of tall trees. Here, cherry and cider apple trees have always grown in the open countryside, while tall plum trees are cultivated in the damper areas along streams and the valley floor. This distinctive cultural landscape is a legacy from ancient times when local farming families still lived in a subsistence economy. They did not cultivate the land with monocultures, but used grazing pastures (also producing hay for cattle) and orchards. With the passage of time, thanks to this mixed land use, a very distinctive, almost unique landscape was created. Its beauty and environmental importance caused it to be included in the Swiss Federal Inventory of Landscapes (the inventory of the Federal Office for the Environment, FOEN).
Today, the old orchards of the Swiss Tafeljura are at risk of disappearing, threatened by the introduction of new varieties of lower trees that require less attention and produce larger fruit than the native varieties. The old Swiss plums, though having an intense aroma and juicy flesh, no longer have a market, and the orchards are gradually becoming outdated.
This Presidium was set up to preserve and promote the unique landscape of the Tafeljura plum orchards. To ensure that the cultivation of ancient varieties of tall trees can be economically profitable, it is necessary to increase the volume of fruit sold by offering high quality products. Today the members of the Presidium are grouped in the Posamenterprodukte association, which includes 12 farmers, two cooperatives and some local artisans.
Tafeljura, Basel-Country canton and Fricktal
Presidium supported by