By Enza Bettelli

IGP Pachino Tomato

These tomatoes are produced in the south east of Sicily, in the small town with the same name, Pachino, and at Portopalo of Capo Passero (which is the most southern point of the island) in the province of Siracusa and in Ispica in the province of Ragusa. Amidst the natural beauty of the coast and cities are the baroque buildings of Ragusa, Modica and Sciclli, UNESCO heritage, and archaeological sites such as the Neapolis park of Siracusa, Eloro close to Noto, the Akrai site at Palazzolo Acreide, the necropolis of Cava di Rivettazzo. There is also much agriculture in the two provinces.

The cooperative for the protection of the IGP Pachino tomato was founded in 2002 and unifies about forty of the major farms on the territory. The produce of the farms which are part of the cooperative is packed according to the production rules which requires new single-use packaging, which doesn’t weigh more than 10 kg net, containing tomatoes of the same type and size, uniform in maturity and colouring.  Each package bears a guarantee seal with the I.G.P. mark “Pomodoro di Pachino”, the EU mark indicating the I.G.P. and the writing “Garantito dal Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali ai sensi dell’art.10 del Reg. (CE) 510/2006” (guaranteed by the Ministry of Agriculture according to law …). Open packages are allowed as long as the fruits are identified with special stickers or the IGP label.
The Pachino tomato differs from the other varieties by its particular and intense flavour, firm pulp, brilliant colour and long shelf life. These characteristics are due to the particular soil, an exceptional microclimate and the salinity of the irrigating water. The quantity of sunshine in this area is also very important; Pachino has the highest level of luminosity in Europe.
The IGP certification refers to four types.
- Ciliegino (small cherry), the best known, which has small, round fruits of intense colour lined up in fish bone shaped bunches.
- Bunch tomatoes: rather small, although dimensions may vary according to the territory; round, smooth, green or red but always with a brilliant colour.
- Smooth round: similar to the bunch type but dark green with a really intense taste.
- Ribbed: quite large, with noticeable ribs, intense brilliant green.
The provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse are very important in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. The cheeses are famous. The traditional sea food is usually cooked with tomatoes. As for the meat, lamb and kid are usually baked or stewed. The most typical first course is maccheroni al sugo. Vegetables are used for preserves, side dishes and quiches and pies such as ‘mpanata (round) and scacciata (folded). Typical desserts of Sicily are cassata and cannoli; especially traditional is Modica chocolate; exquisite although little known is the quince jam of Giarratana.

For this savoury pie, work 500 g of leavened pizza pastry for a few minutes, with 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Leave the pastry covered in a warm place for about an hour or until it has risen. Roll out thinly; spread 3 tablespoons of chopped cherry tomatoes, without the seeds or skin, over half of the pastry, add 200 g of caciocavallo cheese sliced very thinly or coarsely grated, a small diced, fried aubergine and basil leaves. Add salt and pepper, fold the pastry over and close the edges rolling slightly. Place on a baking tray, cover with a cloth and leave while the oven heats up to 220°C.  Brush the surface of the scacciata with extra virgin olive oil and cook in the hot oven for about 30 minutes or until it is well browned. Serve hot, but it is also excellent at room temperature.

(English translation by Gudrun Dalla Via)

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