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.
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.