Bronte pistachio, the green gold that grows in one place in the world

Bronte pistachio, the green gold that grows in one place in the world 1

You think of Bronte, and you think of two things: Wuthering Heights and pistachio. Think of the book because its author, who was also English, was called that. It has to do with her father (and her sisters), her fascination with that name, so exotic for him, and also Admiral Nelson and Ferdinand III of Sicily. But this is a story that we will not tell here.

Here we tell why if you think of Bronte, you think of pistachio: you do it because Bronte is the pistachio, and it is so because “here we all do it, we grow it practically everyone, a door yes and a no, anyone has a piece of land”, as Antonio Intraguglielmo, sales manager of Evergreen, told us, from whom we asked for help to talk about this Italian excellence, which is both large and very small.

Bronte pistachio, the green gold that grows in one place in the world 3

The Italian pistachio that is harvested every 2 years Bronte is a town of fewer than 20 thousand inhabitants, is in the province of Catania and above all is on the slopes of Etna, just under 800 meters above sea level. And the proximity to the volcano is fundamental in the history of this particular pistachio. That today is very Italian, but a few hundred years ago it was not: “Legend has it that it was brought and sown here by the Arabs a long time ago – Intraguglielmo reminded us – Then the lava buried it and made it grow“. That of the relationship with the land that surrounds it is another important detail: “The pistachio of Bronte is not watered, it grows in lava and what nature gives, we take. And it is the only one that is done like this – Intraguglielmo told us again with a certain pride – All the other pistachios, including that of Rappadari (always in Sicily, ed) are sown, or watered “.

Okay: it does not water. So how is it done and how is it produced? Bronte pistachio is a PDO, and a fundamental thing to understand is that it is harvested once every two years, only in odd years. Better: you can harvest it every year, but not every year it is DOP certified. We explain: “Over time it was understood that to reap the fruits every year, the plant was impoverished and yielded up to 40-60% less – they explained to us from Bronte – and it was therefore decided that in the disciplinary for the Protected Designation of Origin the indication was given to collect pistachios only once every two years”. So what? “And so in even years (those, not Dop, ed), in April the buds are removed from the trees and thrown to the ground, to prevent flowering”. And yet, in even-numbered years harvesting is not prohibited: “It can be done, and pistachios can be sold, but the Protection Consortium will not certify them as Pistachio di Bronte Dop, but only as Pistachio Sicilia”.

hạt hồ trăn - bronte pistachio hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

In short, the idea is to let the plant rest, to give it metaphorically the time to breathe, something that people who take care of the harvest can rarely do, which is quite challenging: “It is done all by hand, without using machinery, starting from the end of summer – Intraguglielmo told us again – It starts in September, the pistachios are then left to mature for just over a month and at the end of October they are ready for sale or for transformation”. Do you collect a lot of them? “A mound of soil, equal to 2600 meters, produces about 300 kg of Sigonella (the raw fruit, ed), but much depends on the climate and the rains: our pistachio does not water, but the roots collect rainwater that filters through the lava. And in difficult times, like 4 years ago, or even 6 years ago, we have collected practically nothing.”

Evergreen is a relatively small and family-run company, with about ten employees, which produces 15-20 tons of pistachio a year from about ten hectares of land. In Bronte, there are about 5 thousand producers and from there come a total of just over 1000 tons of green pistachio a year (the figure is from 2019). Which seem many, but instead they are very few.

mùa thu hoạch quả hồ trăn - bronte pistachio hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

How much does it cost and why does it cost so much?

This is one of the reasons why this type of pistachio costs so much (it is very expensive, needless to turn around): because it is a tiny niche of a niche market. A decade ago, the pistachio of Bronte represented more or less 2% of the world market, today we are abundantly below 1%, with this tricolor delicacy that risks being crushed by pistachios that come from California, Iran, Spain, and Turkey, to name the most fearsome competitors.

The other reason is that Bronte pistachio grows only there and only there it is produced. Only there and nowhere else, which if you think about it is a bit impressive, in the globalized and hyper-connected world in which we live. If you want this pistachio, you have to buy it in Bronte.

quả hồ trăn gọt vỏ và muối xay - bronte pistachio hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

Okay, but how much does it cost? On the contrary: how much does it have to cost to be of quality? “It’s an exclusive product, and a fair price is between 40 and 50 euros per kilogram,” Intraguglielmo told us. That he allowed himself a loud laugh, when we asked him if it is possible to find it for less, perhaps around 30-35 euros/kg: “At that figure, it is not true Bronte pistachio. If it really were, I would buy it all myself. But it’s not.” The advantage of staying in this price range is that this pistachio remains relatively sheltered from the crisis: “It is an excellence, and the demand remains high. Because those who want quality, can pay for it and are willing to pay for it, buy it”.

Here, the discriminating factor of the cost is perhaps the only parameter that can help and defend us from counterfeits, from the “pistachio of Bronte” that in reality are not Pistachio of Bronte Dop, but maybe they are Pistachio Sicily or pistachios that come from abroad and are passed off as what they are not: as on Cucchiaio we have often written for other raw materials (from fruit to meat, passing through honey), if the price is too affordable, then probably the product is not what we think it is. And it is better to straighten the antennas.

mùa thu hoạch quả hồ trăn - bronte pistachio hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

From the 70s to today, the uses in the kitchen

The cultivation of Bronte pistachio dates back to decades ago, but has intensified since the seventies: at that time, and in any case still until the eighties and nineties, you said “pistachio” and you thought of ice cream, that green and a little sweet and sour taste that had a non-so-that exotic. Today no, today this particular variety of pistachio is really used everywhere in the kitchen: “You can use it to season pasta, to prepare breading, as a cream, to garnish desserts and of course for ice cream”, our expert reminded us.

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