FARMS in VERONA NEIGHBOURS
The D.O.P. label,
indicates Denomination of Protected Origin and refers to those products that are closely linked to a specific region or geographical area whose name they bear. To obtain the mark, the products are subject to two strict regulations: the basic ingredients must be produced and processed entirely on the spot, which means in the area from which they take their name. Secondly, the quality and characteristics of the product must be exclusively ascribable to the geographical environment from which they derive: with geographical environment we intend the combination of human and natural elements, such as the climate, the soil quality and the processing methods.
||The I.G.P. label,
indicates Protected Geographical Indication and has been introduced with the CE 2081/92 regulations. It indicates the name of a region or of a specific geographical area that is used to designate an agricultural or food product coming from that place. It guarantees that the quality, reputation or any other precise characteristic truly belongs to the original geographical area. Moreover, it certifies that at least one phase – production or processing – takes place in the said area. Thus, the I.G.P. signifies a weaker link with the territory, but a link that is still strong enough to ensure the product’s distinctiveness.
PDO AND PGI PRODUCTS FROM VERONA PROVINCE
Monte Veronese PDO cheese
The “Monte Veronese” cheese is named after the Veronese hill and mountain where it is produced. This product has a very ancient tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages: in fact, the first records of this cheese refer to 1100. The production procedures have remained unchanged throughout the centuries. The quality and typical character of this cheese are ensured by the milk that comes exclusively from the Lessinia stables and by the traditional production procedures. The Monte cheese is sold in two varieties depending on the maturing.
Monte Veronese D.O.P. Whole milk.
A table cheese with half-cooked paste that is made solely with whole milk; the maturing period varies from 30 to 60 days. It has a cylindrical shape and the weight varies from 7 to 10 kg; the paste is a light-straw colour with scattered small holes. The flavour is delicate and pleasant.
Monte Veronese D.O.P. d'allevo (from farm bred animals).
A medium fat cheese with half-cooked paste exclusively produced with cow milk.
The maturing period varies from a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 2 years. It has a cylindrical shape and the weight varies from 6 to 9 kg. The paste has a white colour and/or straw yellow depending on the production season; generally the holes have a medium dimension.
Grana Padano PDO
The history of this cheese dates back to the second millennium. In Middle Age, some monk communities set down in southern Po valley and started to reclaim lands which would in short be turned into meadows for dairy cattles.
At that time surplus milk was used to produce a kind of hard cheese which could ripen and preserve its precious nutricious properties for quite a long time.
The so-called "Grana", was named after the distinctively grainy texture of the cheese, which is very different from the one of other uniform kinds of cheese. It immediately became popular on the best tables of the area.
Later on, other dairies started to develop their activities also outside the initial area which was enclosed among the rivers Po, Ticino and Adda.
The PDO production area of Grana Padano is the Po Valley, which includes the provinces of Padova, Rovigo, Treviso, Venezia, Verona and Vicenza in the region Veneto.
It is a medium fat hard cheese, which is cooked and ripened, produced with cow milk. The cows are fed mainly with fresh or dried forage. The milk comes from two daily milkings and it is then left to stand and partially skimmed.
The product specifications state that Grana Padano PDO must have a cylindrical form, with slightly convex or almost straight sides and flat faces, slightly rimmed.
Each wheel weighs 24 to 40 kg and has a medium diameter of 40 cm, thick rind, yellowish white paste and grainy texture, which breaks in chips.
The term “marrone” refers to the nobler variety of the chestnut. On average, it is bigger, with an oval longer shape, and has a lighter colouring with well-visible dark stripes. The skin is thin and can be easily removed and the flesh is more savoury and sweeter. Both “marroni” and chestnuts were already known in prehistory and were grown by the Romans. This turned out to be to be a wise choice in the subsequent centuries; in fact, from the Middle Ages the “marrone” helped the mountain populations to survive during critical periods of poor nutrition, as it was a good integrator of vitamins and proteins. It is still picked with the traditional methods and can be cooked in different ways: boiled, oven baked, roasted on an open fire (best procedure) and can be used as a basic ingredient for many desserts. The production and trasformation area of "San Zeno Chestnut" is located at an altitude between 250 and 900 metres above sea level and it belongs to the Mount Baldo area, which is enclosed between Lake Garda and Adige valley.
Extra virgin olive oil P.D.O. Veneto
Extra virgin olive oil P.D.O. Garda
In Veneto there are two D.O.P. labels concerning the extra-virgin olive oil: “Garda” and “Veneto” and they are both present in the local production. Moreover, the DOP Veneto is further differentiated in the Valpolicella. This cultivation is found near Lake Garda and on the Veronese hills. In national percentage terms this production is quite limited, but it is still well appreciated on the market for its high quality. The Garda DOP extra-virgin olive oil has a dark green and intense colour with gentle yellow hues. It has a slightly fruity scent and the taste releases a hint of sweet almonds. Whereas the colour of the Veneto-Valpolicella DOP extra-virgin olive oil is more yellow with a hint of green when it is fresh. The perfume is faintly fruity, even though it has a mild bitter taste and leaves an almond aftertaste. Given the pedo-climatic environment that favours this cultivation, both the Garda oil and the Veneto oil produced on the Veronese hills are considered by experts to be among the best oils on the market. Thanks to its genuineness, its digestibility, its nutritional values and its rich flavour, the oil is ideal either eaten raw or when used for cooking. The extra-virgin olive oil is the most digestible fat and has numerous beneficial effects on the organism. For example, it reduces the percentage of bad cholesterol, the risk of blocked arteries, blood pressure, blood sugar level and, in contrast, it increases the quantity of good cholesterol, the secretion of bile, the intake of vitamins A, D and E and favours the absorption of other vitamins. It contributes to limiting arteriosclerosis, myocardium heart attack, some forms of cancer, cell ageing, gastritis, gastric ulcers and osteoporosis and has various effects, antioxidant, diuretic, laxative, febrifugal and reduces stomach inflammation.
Veneto Berico-Euganeo Ham
The “Prosciutto Veneto” is produced in the municipalities of Pressana, Roveredo di Guà and Cologna Veneta and is safeguarded by the “Consorzio del Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo” (supervisory authority). This product was given the DOP certificate in 1980 and is distinguished with the lion-like brand of the Repubblica Serenissima di Venezia.
This ham is particularly sweet, soft and rose-coloured and has a delicate flavour accompanied by a walnut scent. This unique product is produced according to the handmade criteria and procedures. In fact, it derives from the fresh rear thigh of the adult pig of a top quality breed that, in its final period before slaughtering, is fed with food with a high protein content. The thighs, which must not be frozen, are salted within 48 hours of slaughtering. The excess fat and skin is removed and they are hung for processing and maturing so as to avoid the strangulation of the leg. The ham must be left to mature for at least ten months from salting.
Every production phase is supervised by an independent Certifying Authority: from the birth date and place of origins in northern Italy of the fine breed of pigs, to their rearing and nutritional characteristics, from the slaughtering phase to the transport, from the thigh processing to final maturing.
PGI “Vialone Nano” rice
The risotto is the first course of the Veronese tradition par excellence, but choosing the right type of rice is not that easy: in fact, there are more then forty varieties, each one with different characteristics, thus requiring different cooking procedures.
However, in the Veronese area this problem has been solved with the local variety that is particularly suitable for making traditional risotto. The most appreciated type is called “Vialone Nano Veronese” and to make a delicious risotto you should brown some onions in oil and butter, add the rice and then gradually add hot broth until the rice is tender and the liquid has been completely absorbed. One of its advantages is that it can be combined with any sauce: tender pork, succulent stew, fresh peas or fragrant mushrooms. This variety was introduced in the Veronese area at the end of the 1930s and its use spread very quickly. It immediately met the consumers’ approval given its resistance to cooking, its tastiness and the integrity of its grains.
But, with the exception of this area and part of the Mantua province, this variety did not find suitable soils and water. Thus it was abandoned by the other Italian rice-growing areas and became well known only here in the Veronese. It is safeguarded by a consortium of producers and rice-growers and in 1996 was given the IGP certification by the European Community. As well as the cultivation area, the production zone of this rice also comprises the resurgences where the water for the paddies comes from and involves - completely or partially - twenty-four municipalities: Bovolone, Buttapietra, Casaleone, Cerea, Concamarise, Erbé, Gazzo Veronese, Isola della Scala, Isola Rizza, Mozzecane, Nogara, Nogarole Rocca, Oppeano, Palù, Povegliano Veronese, Ronco all'Adige, Roverchiara, Salizzole, Sanguinetto, San Pietro di Morubio, Sorgà, Trevenzuolo, Vigasio and Zevio.
PGI Radicchio di Verona Veneto
In Verona the first industrial radicchio cultivations started at the beginning of the 20th century, even though radicchio had been cultivated there from the beginning of the 18th century in the so called “broli” (vegetable gardens in the city).
“Radicchio di Verona Veneto” can be of the “early” or “late” (tardivo) kind and has the following distinctive features: sessile leaves, with smooth rims and tapered heads. Through the exposure to low winter temperatures, they take the typical intense maroon colour and growing close to one another they give the head its typical compact form. The leaves have a very developed white rib.
In the “tardivo”kind, after the forcing and whitening procedure, the leaves take the typical crunchy quality and slightly bitter taste.
The typical production area is the southern Verona plain.
Radicchio is a precious vegetable which is very versatile in a lot of recipes and local first courses.
PGI Verona Peach
Bussolengo, Pescantina, Sona, Sommacampagna, Villafranca and Valeggio sul Mincio have always been the cradle of Verona peach cultivations and over there during spring time peach trees in blossom offer a truly wonderful sight.
The production area is particularly indicated for peach growing, thanks to its mild climate and closeness to Lake Garda. The peculiar environmental and mild climatic features together with traditionally executed, age long human labour contributed to give to the “Verona Peach” unique qualitative and organoleptic features.
Peach growing in the Verona area has very old origins: in Roman times Plinius referred in his works to the “downy apple” which was grown in the area.
Even the 15th century painter Andrea Mantenga used to paint peaches in his frescoes in the San Zeno Basilica in Verona.
Other typical products of the Verona area
The first historical records on the asparagus date back to 300 BC and were written by Teofrasto. In our region the asparagus has a long tradition. According to nation-wide statistic data, Verona has been the national leader in this sector since 1995. This vegetable belongs to the liliaceous family; it is very fine, fleshy, without leaves and is the bud of the plant and is known as the shoot or turion. There are many varieties differing in colour and dimension. The white colour of the Verona varieties is due to the fact that it is deeply planted in the ground, thus receiving hardly any sunlight. If it is not planted as deep, then the colour is green, a variety that should be eaten when still young. The asparagus has a low content of calories and carbohydrates, but has many proteins. In addition, it is quite rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, riboflavin and folic acid. Traditionally the asparagus was often used to cure arthritis and rheumatism, as a diuretic and is still recommended in cases of anaemia, constipation, liver insufficiency and gastro-intestinal diseases. It can be eaten boiled, with oil and vinegar dressing, accompanied by boiled eggs or can be used for risotto and pasta sauces.
Strawberries are grown all over the province of Verona and particularly in the Bassa Veronese and in the area to the east of Verona. They usually ripen between April and June, while the wild forest variety ripens between June and July. Unfortunately, strawberries are not a long-lasting fruit, as they are easily spoilt by mould, even if kept in the fridge. The strawberry was known and appreciated even in the antiquity; it was eulogized even by Virgilio. It received the appraisal of doctors, herbalists and naturalists of all ages, as besides other things, it is rich in vitamin C.
Although being well known ever since the antiquity, it was only in the 18th century that this fruit started to be grown in the yards and gardens, as it was a basic and delicious ingredient of that era’s cuisine. The modern strawberry has origins in France in 1766 and resulted from the crossbreeding between two wild American varieties, the Fragaria Virginiana of the Eastern States and the Fragaria Chiloensis of the Pacific coast. New varieties are constantly being produced and undergo continuous amelioration with respect to both the dimensions and their resistance to diseases. The strawberries can be eaten fresh, cut into small pieces and sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar or even with some wine. Alternatively, they can be used to produce delicious jams.
The extensive cultivation of kiwis (Actinidia chinensis) first came about in New Zealand. It was introduced to Italy in 1973. In just a few years this cultivation quickly spread to the Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Lazio regions to the point that Italy became the N°1 producer of kiwis in the world. 100 grams of kiwi pulp contains 90/150 mg of vitamin C, thus being the product with the highest content. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an anti-oxidant, that is to say that it counteracts the negative effects of free radicals. Veneto is one of the major producers of this fruit and, given its mild climate, Lake Garda has proven to be a particularly suitable area. In addition, the kiwi is an ecological fruit, as it doesn’t need any anti-parasitic treatments. The “Top Star” variety is a typical product of the Verona area and was accidentally discovered by a Veronese farmer: it is a “glabrous” fruit, that is to say, without the characteristic fine hair on the skin. This variety derived from a completely natural gene mutation: the resulting actinidia maintains unaltered all the organoleptic characteristics. It is more pleasant when touched and is therefore preferred by the consumers.
The early melon of Verona represents another major element in the fruit production of the Bassa Veronese and the eastern area of Verona along with the strawberry, and has recorded a remarkable development in quality and quantity. The Veronese countryside is covered with extensive cultivations of melon in glasshouses. This early melon is highly esteemed and deeply rooted to the territory. It could almost be considered a niche product, as the production is not elevated. In fact, the melon fields in the province of Verona amount to about 0.2% of the overall national surface, while this percentage increases to 13% for the melon cultivation in glasshouses, as this kind of production means the early melon can be on the market from late May to early July. The melon has a fleshy pulp, full of juice and a well-defined flavour. It is best eaten chilled and its flavour is further enriched when combined with raw ham.
The apple is largely cultivated throughout the province of Verona but more so in the flat eastern area and in the Bassa Veronese.
This fresh fruit is very rich in vitamins A and C, enzymes, natural yeast, pectin, simple sugars - such as fructose and glucose - that can be easily assimilated by the body, minerals, water and fibre.
Eating an apple provokes a feeling of satiety as it keeps up the glycaemic level: this is why apples are always included in low-calorie diets.
In addition, the apple can be highly tolerated: no human allergies to this fruit are known. This is why the apple is one of the first foods recommended for weaning babies.
Given its high content of water, it can have diuretic and antiseptic effects.
As a drink, the apple juice is also very good, but bear in mind that it cannot have the same beneficial effects as the fresh fruit.
Some studies have ascertained that the regular intake of apples reduces the incidence of colds and respiratory tract diseases; thus, the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” acquires a higher, certified value.
Cherries are one of the traditional fruits of Verona and are grown predominantly on the Lessini mounts. The cherry-tree (from the Latin cerasus) belongs to the rosaceous family and is also known as “sweet cherry-tree”. It probably originates from the area between Anatolia and the Caspian Sea. It can reach a height of 25 metres and has a sturdy trunk, a dark grey bark with the typical transversal stripes. The new branches have a smooth bark with well-visible lenticels. It has alternate leaves, which are long, oval and serrated and have short petioles; the flowers are white, hermaphrodite, with 5 petals united in groups of 1 to 6. The fruits (cherries) are spherical drupes with differing dimensions and consistency, a more or less intense red colour or even yellow with red tones and with a long stalk.
In Italy two subspecies are being cultivated: the hard-flesh cherry (var. duracina; also called durone), and the heart cherry (var. juliana) with soft, juicy flesh, usually red in colour (also called tenerina). Cherries are very rich in potassium and vitamins A, B and C. They must be eaten fresh, in jam or in spirit. They are also used to make liquors (maraschino, ratafia, cherry brandy, etc.).
Golden potato from the red soils of the Guà
The agronomic peculiarity of these soils consists of the presence of particular basaltic and calcareous clays of a dark red colour. These clays, combined with silt, endow the tubers with the peculiar golden shade of the skin that represents the distinctive characteristic of this potato. In the last two years, the average surface utilized for this crop in this area amounts to 1,200 hectares with a yield of 550,000 quintals.
About 800 producers contribute to this production, while four independent trading businesses and three associates take care of the processing and packaging phases.
This very big vegetable is mainly cultivated in the Bassa Veronese and in the eastern area of Verona. It has a green, thick skin and the flesh has an intense yellow colour with a distinct, sweet flavour. It is full of seeds that can be toasted, salted and eaten as a snack. The pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, potassium and phosphorus and is particularly suitable for preparing soups, risotto, as well as gnocchi or it can be oven baked au gratin.
The cabbage is another typical product of the Bassa Veronese and of Castagnaro, the municipality that boasts the highest production in Italy, and has already submitted the request for the IGP certification.
Its therapeutic properties have been acknowledged since the ancient times: in fact, it is very rich in nutritional substances (vitamin C, selenium, fibre and potassium), as well as iron and sulphur. It can be eaten raw in a salad or as an accompaniment to pork; in this case, it must be boiled in a little salted water with some vinegar and served warm with melted butter, salt and pepper.
The truffle is another delicious element of the Veronese gastronomy. There are two varieties: the truffle of Monte Baldo and the one of the Lessini mounts. The fine black truffle has a pleasant and intense flavour. Its dimensions vary, in fact it can be as big as a walnut or as an apple and looks like a tuber; usually, the ripening period is from November to March. The summer black truffle or scorzone and the trifola are not as highly esteemed but just as popular and widespread.
Given its intense aroma and taste, the truffle should be used in small quantities to add flavour to dishes. If overused, it will overpower the other flavours.
Like the melon, the watermelon is also mainly cultivated in the Bassa Veronese and eastern area of Verona. It symbolises the arrival of summer and there cannot be a country feast without a molonara, a stand serving big watermelon slices.
This cucurbit is a great thirst quencher and diuretic, as it is 95% water and also contains potassium and protovitamin A.
Honey is another typical product of the Verona province. Today, bee keeping has virtually become a hobby, popular in the area between the Garda riviera, the Monte Baldo and the Lessinia. The main types produced are the acacia honey, which is transparent, runny, perfumed and very sweet (excellent for breakfast on some buttered toast), the dark “millefiori” (thousand flowers) honey, typical of the woods and hilly areas, and, obviously, the chestnut honey that has a darker colour and is slightly bitter. This honey is the perfect accompaniment to matured cheeses.
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