Let’s find out everything about this product, which was awarded the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 2009.
All about Bronte Pistachio
Once a simple garnish for desserts and now an indispensable part of the dishes of top chefs (and others), the Bronte pistachio is an Italian food and wine product of undisputed quality. Produced in a small Sicilian community on the slopes of Mount Etna, the fruit is still grown in an area shaped by hard lava rock and harvested by hand, as was the tradition many decades ago. Despite its incredible success and international distribution, the Bronte pistachio is still harvested and dried according to local customs. It is therefore very important to know the production process and the characteristics of the fruit in order to be able to distinguish it from other imitations that are quickly appearing on the market but are not even from Bronte.
Bronte pistachio: characteristics
The Bronte pistachio, also known as the “Green Gold” of Sicily, is really a product that has made rich the small town where it is grown. The uniqueness of the fruit clearly depends on the particular territorial and climatic conditions in which it is grown: the pistachio trees grow on rocky terrain covered by the Etna lava, at an altitude between 300 and 900 meters and can therefore withstand both cold and drought tolerated well. This plant has been recognized as a protected designation of origin (PDO) since 2009 and is part of the Slow Food presidia. It is the main economic resource for the vast Bronte area (as well as some neighboring communities), earning it the nickname “green gold”. From this area comes a product with a unique taste and an unmistakable appearance that allows the Bronte pistachio to be distinguished from other fruits.
But what are its special characteristics?
First of all, the shell has a slightly concave shape with the ends pointing slightly upwards. The inside of the pistachio has an elongated shape and is protected by a thin purple skin with green reflections. However, the characteristic feature of the fruit is its green color when cut in half, which is due to the high concentration of chlorophyll. Bronte pistachios are also notable for their sweet taste, which is by no means salty (a distinguishing feature to distinguish them from imitations).
Bronte Pistachio: Cultivation and Harvesting
The Bronte pistachio, known as “frastuca” in Sicily, is a particular variety of Pistacia vera cv Napoletana (pistachio, to be precise). As already mentioned, what makes this fruit unique is the land on which it is grown: over 2600 hectares of land belonging to the Sicilian community on the slopes of Mount Etna. The trees here grow naturally and are harvested about every two years to allow the plant to recover and better withstand the elements. Especially in August and September, the fruit is harvested by hand, as was the case decades ago, especially since the terrain is very uneven and it would be almost impossible to drive a machine from one tree to another. Once harvested, the fruit is brought to homes amidst the pistachio groves and laid out on huge cloths to dry in the sun while still covered by the shell. Towards the end of the drying phase, the shell is removed, the pistachios are dried in the sun and, if necessary, the shell is removed. This is how the Bronte pistachio is made, an Italian specialty that enjoys great success all over the world
The real Bronte pistachio numbers
According to the most recent data on the subject, there are around 5,000 producers in the territory of the municipality of Etna, whose acreage is often limited to around 1 hectare; after harvesting, the pistachios are usually crushed and dried by the grower himself, who then sells the product in shell to export companies. Figures say that around 60% of Bronte pistachios are exported abroad, while the rest stays in Italy and is also used by many local companies that process the tasty fruit into products such as cream, pesto or nougat. The areas of Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla (which are specifically mentioned in the specification) together have 3500 hectares of land and guarantee 90% of the total Sicilian production (3500 tons in 2012), which is 0.25% of the world production (with the Iran, the United States and Turkey dominate). Altogether, pistachios from Bronte generate a value of around 35/40 million euros per year, living up to their nickname “green gold”.
How much do Bronte pistachios cost?
But there is another reason that brings the fruit of this plant closer to the famous metal, and that is the price: the Bronte PDO pistachio is an elite product and can cost up to 100 euros per kilogram, starting from a value of 40 Euro. Some peculiarities in the cultivation and harvesting of the fruit are decisive for the high average prices: Pistachio trees grow every two years and therefore need large harvests in order to achieve a satisfactory level of production. Furthermore
the flowering and harvesting methods are also difficult and in some ways explain and justify the price of the product.
Bronte pistachio in the kitchen
Recently there has been an incredible rediscovery of this ingredient, no longer found only in some desserts but used in numerous preparations such as pistachio pesto, delicious creams and sauces or “simple” biscuits and cakes, etc. This has led not only to an increase in demand and consequently in price, but also to an “abuse” of the term “Bronte pistachio”: practically all dishes today seem to use this food, not only in gourmet restaurants but also in products that are widely distributed.
Here our pistachio products pistachio and cream – Sapore Italia (sapore-italia.com)