Calabaza de Alma
The calabaza de Alma is an elongated, yellowish pumpkin, almost 55 cm long, with a diameter of 40 cm at its thickest part, which weighs approximately 500 grams.
It has a thick skin and a mostly fleshy interior, except for the central core reserved for the seeds.
The production area is located on the eastern fringe of the Province of Teruel, bordering the Autonomous Communities of Catalonia and Valencia. Located between 500 and 1200 above sea level, the area is characterized by a continental Mediterranean climate, with marked seasonality and an average annual rainfall of 650 mm, but also by the presence of valleys and sunny areas with a more temperate climate.
The pumpkin is sown in spring, from March to May, on fields with a good sun exposure, and it is harvested at the beginning of autumn, as they are traditionally consumed on All Saints’ Day, on November 1st. The soil is usually fertilized with manure and watered regularly with drip irrigation.
It is usually associated with other coltures such as Corn, beans, cabbage, lettuce, chard and tomato.
The calabaza de alma is traditionally used as a base for preparing the filling of a sweet preparation called torta de alma, and half-moon shaped confectionery product made from a dough made from wheat flour, edible vegetable oil, aniseed, mistela, cinnamon and sugar, with a pumpkin marmalade and honey filling known as ‘alma’, soul.
The origin of the recipe seems to date back to the 9th century when in Europe, every 1st November, Christians used to ask for "Tortas de alma", which were then like sweet bread, and in exchange they offered prayers for the dead of the people who gave them donations.
The components of the recipe also suggest that they take on the ingredients of the Islamic culture that was maintained in Spain from the 8th to the 15th century.
Traditionally, it was the confectioners and their families who cultivated this pumpkin variety in their orchards, in order to have stocks to prepare the torta de alma.
Today, pastry chefs are increasingly using industrial fillings or a well- known pumpkin marmalade called “cabello de ángel” for the preparation of this traditional recipe.
At present, there are only about 50 farmers cultivating about 1 000 kg of ‘alma’ pumpkin per year.