By Enza Bettelli

Val di Non DOP Apples

Not far from Trento, are  the Val di Non’s alpine lakes (such as Santa Giustina and Tovel), the Maddalene mountain range and the Brenta Dolomites, all of which are UNESCO heritage including also the beautiful Adamello Brenta Natural Park. There are villages and hamlets everywhere, often with ancient palaces and castles (Thun, Cles, San Romedio Sanctuary). The Noce river and several torrents and brooks have eroded the rocks over the centuries, and this is why Val di Non is also known as Canyon Valley. Apple orchards cover more than 10 per cent of the entire valley surface and have been in this area since ancient times. The name of Malé, an important centre of the valley is testimonial to this; the name derives from the latin maletum (place of apples).
The cooperative was founded in 1989 and represents 16 fruit producing  co-ops with more than 5000 members whose apple orchards cover about 6500 hectares and annually produce about 300 thousand tons of apples, about 15 % of the national production. The cooperative represents the apples and products made from apples in 27 countries worldwide.
DOP was assigned in 2003, and the co-op members follow a disciplinary protocol which demands integrated cultivation methods in order to obtain quality fruit which respects and safeguards the environment. The DOP production area is found in the self-governing province of Trento next to the Noce stream covering the whole territory.

DOP Val di Non applies to three apples varieties: Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Canadian Renet; each apple receives a sticker with the cooperative symbol.
Golden Delicious are more or less intense yellow, sometimes with a slight red hue on the side which was more exposed to the sun; the shape is truncated conical; the pulp is subtle, firm and crunchy; the flavour is sweet and balanced. They are available all year round owing to the long shelf life.
Red Delicious are bright velvety red, with waxy-looking peel; truncated-conical shape, sometimes flared in the centre with five tips at the end; the pulp is subtle, crunchy and juicy and becomes soft when mature; they have an intense and sweet flavour. Available from October to June.
Canadian Renet are ideal in the kitchen, not only in the preparation of desserts but also for savoury recipes. Yellow coloured, becoming grained when well matured with a more or less extensive “rust”; the form is rounded, slightly flattened and irregular; the pulp is white, soft and mellow; the taste is particular, aromatic and intense. Available from the end of September to May.

Traditional Trentino cuisine makes use of simple ingredients, such as stale bread for ‘strangolapreti’ (rustic potato dumplings with spinach) and ‘canederli’ (similar to those in Alto Adige), and potatoes which make delicious soups and savoury pies (‘tortel da patate’). Berries, game and mushrooms are obtained from the woods. A frequent ingredient is polenta (maize flour cooked in salted water) which accompanies all dishes, even cold meats and cheeses, which are abundant in the region, such as ‘grana trentino’ and ‘mortandela’, a special cold meat which has the form of a large meatball. Among the desserts, as well as strudel and apple pie, there is also ‘brezdel’, a fluffy doughnut covered with sugar.

Mushrooms are picked from the forests. ‘Boletus’, ‘finferli’ and many other varieties can be found, mixed up and cooked together to become ‘pocio’, the base for savoury, aromatic gravies to accompany polenta, meat or fish. Polenta is prepared in the traditional way, then left to firm up and then be sliced up and barbecued or cooked in oil, served very hot.
Mushrooms are rapidly tossed in the frying pan with a little oil, finely chopped onion or garlic and parsley, so that they remain slightly crisp. Often sausage meat is added and left to brown before adding the mushrooms; thus the dish becomes an excellent main course.

(English translation by Gudrun Dalla Via)

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