The Belluno Zucca Santa is a local variety that is grown in Val Belluna, in particular along the Piave river in the province of Belluno.
This is a classic “winter” pumpkin and it is still among one of the most popular pumpkins in the area thanks to its organoleptic characteristics. It is an annual plant, that has a creeping stem with many nodes. From these nodes round leaves sprout; the plant can reach 5 meters in length and its yellow flowers are edible. The pumpkin is harvested in autumn, when it is fully ripened, and it can be kept whole until January.
The Belluno Zucca Santa has an ample rounded shape and appears somewhat squashed on top; they weigh around 3 kilograms. The peel is hard, green in colour and sometimes pink shades are present together with large yellow areas; the skin is lumpy and furrowed with longitudinal streaks. The pulp is an intense yellow-orange colour, with numerous white seeds and a fine and sweet flavour.
In the kitchen, the pumpkin is enjoyed cooked in the oven, stewed or simply boiled; it is also used in the preparation of soups, risottos and pumpkin gnocchi. It is also popularly used to make a traditional pumpkin bread.
In the last two centuries, the cultivation of pumpkins has characterised the domestic economy of the peasant families of Val Belluna because it was closely linked to pig farming, pumpkins are an optimal food for pigs.
The Belluno Zucca Santa was grown on the edges of corn fields in the Belluna Valley, and they were only cultivated in rows after the last post-war period. They have always been produced for consumption among the families and have rarely been sold for commercial purposes.
Until about twenty years ago the cultivation of this pumpkin had almost disappeared, and the small quantities produced were used to feed animals. This cultivation was recovered in 2011 and a small protection consortium was created in Caorera (in the municipality of Quero-Vas) where a festival dedicated to this pumpkin takes place every year.
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.