Tag: concentrate

Tomato: a concentrate of sunshine! – Italian Cuisine

Pasta and pizza, but also parmigiana and dozens of our typical recipes include tomatoes among the ingredients. Yet it arrived in Italy only in 1500 and it had to wait over two centuries before it passed through the door of the kitchens as an ornamental plant. The first news on the tomato cultivation in Parma date back to 1840, when the sale of the "black preserves" began, prepared with tomatoes without seeds and skins cooked for a long time, until a thick and dark sauce was obtained, then dried in the sun: the tip of a spoon to flavor soups and dishes during the winter months. The period between 1870 and the beginning of the twentieth century was fundamental for the development of tomato transformation processes thanks to new technologies, made possible by the industrial revolution, which improved the quality of the preserves.

A thousand oaks for sustainability

The province of Parma is a reference point for the production and processing of tomatoes, thanks to a short and controlled supply chain that provides for cultivation within a radius of fifty-one hundred kilometers from the factories: this care allows to keep intact the scent, the flavor and nutritional values ​​of freshly picked tomatoes. An approach that is also good for the environment, reducing environmental pollution due to transport. The topic of sustainability is a priority of Mutti (mutti-parma.com), so much so that in 1999 it was the first company with Certified Integrated Production brand, to guarantee a cultivation aimed at reducing water and energy consumption and traceability of the entire supply chain. Since 2001 the declaration of production has been added not GMO, while the collaboration with WWF Italia has been going on for ten years to find solutions to reduce water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. New this year is the "Thousand oaks" project, together with the municipalities of Montechiarugolo, Sissa Trecasali and Traversetolo: 1100 trees were planted on an area of ​​50,000 square meters destined to expand with the accession of neighboring municipalities. Attention to sustainability also for another Parma company, Rodolfi Mansueto (rodolfi.com), which since 2011 has equipped itself with a photovoltaic system and has started various projects and collaborations, including Biocopac, to transform the processing by-products into natural resins to be reused for the production of paints for containers. In addition, it is planting native plants with its suppliers and is committed to reducing chemical fertilization in favor of organic fertilization.

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From the fields to the tube

Generally it is called tomato, but our country produces different varieties. The Rotondo of Parma, which gives the best in Emilia-Romagna and in the neighboring regions, is the most used for sauces, gravies and preserves. The Long tomato it is a typical variety of Southern Italy and grows mainly in Puglia, in the Capitanata area, where the particular soils and climate give it an intense and fresh taste and a firm and pulpy texture. The Cherry, small and round, it is another typical variety of the South, where the warm climate makes it fresh and lively. The San Marzano, grown only in the Agro Sarnese-Nocerino area, is a PDO variety with a fresh, intense and non-acid taste, and a characteristic bright red color. The long-shaped Datterino is grown both in the South, mainly in Puglia, and in the hilly areas of Emilia-Romagna and the Adriatic coast; it is particularly appreciated for its thin skin and its delicate and naturally sweet flavor. With this variety Mutti produces the Datterini pulp, suitable for seasoning pasta, legumes, fish and molluscs. Rodolfi, on the other hand, combines tomatoes with other vegetables from the garden for his historic Ortolina in a tube, a sauce born from an old recipe from 1936, which Ida, the wife of the founder Mansueto, prepared for Sunday lunch and on special occasions. Her husband began to produce it on an industrial level in the 1950s, advertising it with the slogan "the kitchen garden": for its practicality and goodness it had an immediate success, which continues today.

Which preserves do I choose?

It depends on what you cook. For example, pizza, amatriciana or meats?

Pulp: it is obtained by combining the juice and the pulpy part of the tomato, chopped into finer pieces for pizza and larger for sauces. It is a quick condiment, ideal for fresh preparations and fish recipes, but it adds a slight acidity to more robust dishes, such as stew or braised meat.
Passed: tomatoes are chopped, refined, heated to very high temperatures for a short time and slightly concentrated. With its creamy consistency and intense, sweet and light taste, it is irreplaceable for the great Italian first courses, such as amatriciana and arrabbiata.
Concentrated: it takes six kilos of fresh tomatoes to make a kilo of double concentrate and nine kilos for the triple concentrate. Creamy, very dense and with an intense flavor, it gives sauces and gravies a richer taste dimension and a vivid color. Combine it with the pulp for sauces, meat sauce and stews or use it to accompany boiled meats.

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Tomato, salt and sun: the art of Sicilian concentrate – Italian Cuisine

Tomato, salt and sun: the art of Sicilian concentrate

It is the Sicilian preserve par excellence, still made with the ancient processing. It is a ritual that involves all the families of Aspra, a small fishing village on the outskirts of Palermo, and, on 8 and 9 September, also all those who want to participate in the Ciauru ri astrattu event. Here are the details

The wind throws open the windows of the houses overlooking the sea and the festive voices of the children echo from the courtyard in the courtyard to cover the screech of seagulls. The men are busy carrying heavy wooden boards under the scorching sun of Sicily while their agile and quick hands, of their women, spin in the air like a magical dance, engaged in the preparation of tomato concentrate. A collective rite that every summer involves the entire community of Aspra, a small fishing village on the outskirts of Palermo.

The ancient workmanship

"Making tomato extract makes us happy and keeps bad thoughts away" Pina and Nina Balistreri – two elegant and volcanic sisters, both resident in Aspra – shine and are moved to recall childhood memories of a family tradition that, with strength and tenacity, tries to survive in an increasingly industrialized world.

Tomato extract (u'strattu in Sicilian) is the Sicilian preserve par excellence, always present in the iconic dishes of the Palermo cuisine such as pasta with sardines, tuna in sauce (tunnina ammuttunata) and meatballs d'anciova (anchovy). To make it happen you need three basic ingredients: tomato, salt and sun. To these are then added the expert movements of the expert hands of the ladies of Aspra who have been dealing with this preparation for generations: the tomatoes are cleaned, washed and left to dry overnight. The next morning we proceed with the squeezing. The sauce obtained is arranged, with slow and always the same gestures, on large wooden tables (the maidde) perfectly clean and dry so that the sun – with its warm and persistent rays – can dry the tomato. A process that lasts an entire morning. Afterwards, the concentrate to which Sicilian sea salt is added is collected at the center of each table (80g per 10kg), to then be leveled again with your hands. In the afternoon we finally proceed to the collection of the extract, arranged in smaller tables and left to rest in the shade for two days. "Processing in the past took place in the courtyards because it required a lot of space," says Pina, "and from time to time the shift family involved in the preparation was helped. They were days of celebration because whole families gathered. But they also required so much effort, in fact I remember that no one cooked for fatigue and ate only bread with oil and tomato . The last phase is the bottling of the concentrate: with well greased hands of oil it is placed inside large glass jars covered with a white cloth surmounted by a little mound of salt to absorb the moisture of the extract. The ladies of Aspra still practice this custom: "I remember that Dad," adds his sister Nina, "wanted to always have at home a" badduzza "(ball, note) of extract at hand, to give even more flavor to the dishes prepared by mother .

Appointment for all in September

For those wishing to experience the magic of this ancient rite, on 8 and 9 September the Cultural Association Altura organizes the event in Aspra Ciauru ri astrattu (extract fragrance). "The ritual of preparing tomato concentrate," he says Rosellina Mantini, president of the association, "accompanied our summers when we were children, as well as the smell of tomato lying in the sun. We cannot risk that this heritage should be lost and our commitment is to celebrate and highlight an all-female knowledge that is handed down between generations and that can be saved from oblivion only by recalling it .

Two whole days to discover stories, legends and anecdotes about the preparation of tomato concentrate, its link with the salt extraction activities and with the catch. Instead, it will be up to local chefs to show the public its use in the kitchen. Original the idea of Antonio Sciortino, owner of the restaurant Colapisci, to create a pizza with a mixture of 5 Sicilian grains and a topping that reproduces the seasoning of the typical pasta with sardines (the concentrate is a fundamental ingredient of the recipe), today proposed as a welcome to the guests of his beautiful restaurant on the seafront of Aspra .

The event will also feature some of the most talented Sicilian chefs: Martina Caruso, 1 Michelin star chef of Signum of Salina, Marco Baglieri of the restaurant Crucified in Noto, Giacomo Caravello of Balice in Milazzo, inaugurated this summer, e Bonetta Dell’Oglio, the chef champion of the protection of Sicilian biodiversity.

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Long live the nettle, a concentrate of health! – Italian Cuisine


A beneficial plant spread throughout the world in mild to temperate climates, particularly in very humid habitats (such as forests, rivers and on the edges of roads), already used in Greek and Roman times to soften meat and decidedly in vogue in a large number of recipes, especially in this spring season.
Let's talk about thenettle, a plant species that seems to derive its name from the Anglo-Saxon word "noedl" or "needle" (not for nothing its Latin name "urtica" means to burn), which we now know better thanks to Raffaella Melani, nutritionist biologist, ready to reveal her beneficial properties and advice in the kitchen.

Valuable source of beneficial substances, such as polyphenols

157529"Nettles are a rich source of nutrients. They can contain up to 3.7% protein, 0.6% fat, 6.4% dietary fiber and 7.1% carbohydrate", says the nutritionist, " The leaves are rich sources of precious elements, such as i carotenoids (also contained in carrots, pumpkin, broccoli) e fatty acids, as well as of various essential amino acids for our health, namely chlorophyll, vitamins, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides, isolectins and minerals. Extracts from the aerial parts of nettles are rich sources of polyphenols, while the roots contain oleanolic acid, sterols and glycosides ".

Rich in vitamins

130969The fresh leaves contain high concentrations of vitamins. Deepens Raffaella Melani "In particular la A, C, D, E, F, K and P, as well as of vitamin B complexes. The leaves are also known to contain particularly large amounts of minerals such as selenium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Zinc was found in the highest concentrations in the leaves (27.44 mg / kg of dry mass), followed by copper (17.47 mg / kg) and manganese (17.17 mg / kg) ".

Beneficial for the prostate

170425Because of the variety of phytochemicals and their proportions they contain, nettles show considerable activity against bacteria. Dr. Melani explains "The most recognized health benefit of using these plants is activity against benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as an enlarged prostate, as well as iurinary tract infections. Nettles can also help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain, generally in the case of hands, knees, hips and spine ".

Essential to know when and how to collect it

141251As with other plants, the composition of plants is influenced by various factors, including variety, climate, soil, vegetative phase, harvest time, storage and treatment. When and how nettles are harvested it strongly determines the final product. The nutritionist states "For the production of fibers, nettles must be harvested when the seeds are ripe or when the stems reach 80% of the biomass on the surface, starting from the second year of sowing. To use the leaves instead you need to choose younger plants. As a result, the harvest period also makes the difference: plants harvested in April are used for the production of fodder, medicine or chlorophyll. Nettles harvested at the end of June are used for fiber production. The second harvest of September can be used for the collection of leaves ".

In the kitchen it is multi-use!

154201These plants can be consumed mainly as a fresh boiled or cooked vegetable, added to soups or used in vegetable salads. In European countries, nettles are used in soups or as steamed or withered vegetables. Because it has a similar taste and texture, cooked nettle can be used as a substitute for spinach. Raw nettles after mixing they can also be used in sauces for the pesto, salad dressings or other sauces.

In Italy and also in other countries

In the temperate region ofHimalaya, the leaves are cooked and eaten as a green vegetable. The plants are boiled with cornmeal, millet or wheat, with the addition of salt and chilli to make a sort of porridge. The boiled nettles with nuts they are a common dish in Georgia, while I Romanian prepare the sour soup using fermented wheat bran, vegetables and young nettle leaves. The mature leaves are used in the production of Cornish cheese semi-hard, made from milk rich in grass and wrapped in nettles. The nettle changes the acidity of the outer part of the cheese, influencing the way the curd breaks and matures. It has also been documented that nettle leaves can be used to coagulate milk in the process of making fresh cheese. In some European countries, for example in Serbia and Poland, the bread with nettle leaves (up to 1%) is sold as a commercial product. Points out Melani "Compared to barley and wheat flour, the nettle flour it has a much higher content of proteins, raw fibers, fats, ashes, calcium and iron and has a low glycemic index. Compared to barley and wheat, nettles have much higher levels of total tannins and polyphenols ".

Beneficial also in the form of herbal tea

121773The nettle leaves they can also be used to prepare herbal teas, rich in vitamins and minerals. Depending on the amount used, nettle tea tastes light to strong and tastes similar to vegetable broth. The nettle tea concentrate can be used as soup base or as a component in beverages or green cocktails. The nettle roots can be used as extracts liquids or powders, as well as special decoctions. Nettles are also used in herbal liqueurs. In the British Isles, plants are used in an alcoholic beverage, similar to ginger beer and produced in the same way.
Nettle, for all its properties, is therefore suitable for a wide range of possible applications, including functional foods, food supplements and pharmacological formulations, but nothing beats its tastiest form, the filling for ravioli!

Elisa Nata
April 2019

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