Lenticchie di Santo Stefano

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The lentils (Lens culinaris) cultivated in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, mountain municipality of the L’Aquila province and part of the “Parco del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga”, belong to a rare and ancient variety, which is cultivated only in dry soils of high mountain, between 1200 e and 1450 meters, sometimes also 1600 meters.
It is a specific biotype, which spread here in ancient times. It is enough considering that the first cultivations of legumes, lentils in particular, are quoted inside documents of 998. This is comprehensible, since the environment is ideal, with long and cold winters – at the end of March the lentils are sown– whole Springs are short and fresh. The calcareous and poor soils typical of Mountain environments are perfect for the growth of lentils, which do not require great fertilisation activities. On the other hand, the harvest, which takes place between the end of July and the end of August, is complicated: they ripen gradually and at different times, depending on the altitude of the field; often it is not possible to use the harvester, not only because the fields are in arduous areas, but also because legumes develop next to the field and with a mechanic collection. The losses could be around 30-40% of the harvest. Because of this the harvest is still done by hand according to traditional manufacturing methods and the production aimed to the home consumption target.
The principal characteristics are their dark-brown colour, their tiny dimensions, the streaked and wrinkled surface and the taste, which made them famous in all Italy.
The quantities are limited and are decreasing each year and this is aggravated by the growing of the market of false lentils of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, which damages local productions. Because of this has been established a Presidio Slow Food, supported by Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, by the L’Aquila province, by Comunità Montana Campo Imperatore-Piana di Navelli, by the municipalities  of Barisciano, Calascio, Castel del Monte, Castelvecchio Calvisio and Santo Stefano di Sessanio.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Santo Stefano di Sessanio()

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