P.G.I Pachino Tomato
It is one of the best known ambassadors of Sicily, its red and shiny fruits crunch in the mouth, it has an intense aroma and a sweet taste: we are talking about the PGI Pachino Tomato.
This particular tomato, called the "red gold" of Sicily, is grown in the southeastern area of the island, which includes the municipalities of Pachino and Portopalo di Capo Passero, up to Noto and Ispica. In this area a mix of factors - such as clayey soil, solar exposure (which reaches the highest levels in Europe), sirocco winds, rainfall shortage and salinity of irrigation water- contributes to make it a product of absolute quality.
The history of Pachino Tomato is very recent and someone will be surprised to discover that this vegetable does not have Sicilian origins. It was introduced to the island in 1989 by an Israeli company that, exploiting the soil and climate characteristics of this territory, experimented the cultivation of two new varieties of tomatoes, "Rita" and "Noemi", which here found the best conditions of growing. Despite initial distrust, this plantation achieved enormous success, and Pachino lands proved to be particularly suitable for the cultivation of new vegetables, which became soon famous with the name of the country of origin.
Thanks to its excellent quality, since 2003 the Pachino Tomato has received the Protected Geographical Indication certification and it has been protected and promoted by the Consortium for the Protection of the Tomato from Pachino.
The PGI label classifies and protects four varieties of Pachino Tomato, which are alike in the tasty and sugary flesh and in the excellent preservation properties after harvesting: the famous Cherry Tomato, similar to a cherry in size, with round and red fruits; the tasty Costoluto, bigger and dark green in colour; the Tondo Liscio, small and round shaped, dark green in colour and with a very strong taste; the Grappolo, green or red in colour and large in size.
It is cultivated in large greenhouses, according to the production specifications concerning the use of water, pruning, fertilization and pollination. This refined vegetable is harvested by hand between July and October, when it is completely ripe. Each tomato, before being distributed for sale, or used to prepare preserves, must pass quality control in order to guarantee the high level of quality.
In addition to being very good and tasty, Pachino tomato is a panacea for health. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers; it is an antioxidant and diuretic; It has few calories, improves pressure, promotes concentration and prevents certain types of cancer . Furthermore, it can protect from infectious diseases and skin problems. Thanks to its versatility in cooking, it is rightly considered the king of the Mediterranean cuisine, especially suitable for salads and pasta seasonings.
Every year in August, in the enchanting maritime village of Marzamemi, it takes place the characteristic Pachino Tomato Festival with the aim of enhancing this top product of Sicilian agriculture, and the whole area where it is cultivated.