The cultivation of the Mantua White Pepper’s seeds have been handed down from generation to generation in the lower Po Valley, between Mantua and Piacenza, since the early twentieth century. Today it is grown mainly in the Mantuan Oltrepò.
This pepper has an annual cycle. The plant has an upright stem that grows to about 60 centimetres in height. The seedlings are planted out in open fields in May and the first harvests begin in mid-June. Irrigation, which is done using a hose, must be constant and good fertilisation is also required.
The Mantua White Pepper hangs down from the plant, it is about 15 to 16 centimetres long, 5 to 6 centimetres wide and has a weight ranging between 100 and 150 grams. It has the shape of an irregular parallelepiped with 3 or 4 ribs that are barely noticeable, and it is thinner towards its apex. When it is not ripe yet, the pulp is thin, crunchy and the skin is a white-citrine colour: this is one of the peculiarities of this variety. When it reaches its final ripeness, the pepper turns a brick red colour.
The Mantuan white pepper is very crunchy and is also very digestible; the flavour of the flesh is delicate, and they can be eaten raw in salads when they are still not ripe yet. It is also common to marinate the peppers in a mixture of wine, vinegar and salt in order to preserve them for longer.
Although it was once grown in the Mantuan Oltrepò, Piacenza and Parma it was not a very well-known product on the market until a few years ago. Today it is only available locally.
This variety of pepper has been the subject of research projects that have been completed by some professors and researchers from the University of Pavia, who have also collected a lot of information on a large number of local Lombard varieties in a publication ("Traditional Lombard agronomic varieties at risk of extinction or genetic erosion Vegetables and cereals: an overview ", G. Rossi, F. Guzzon, M. Canella, ER Tazzari, P. Cauzzi, S. Bodino, NMG Ardenghi, Pavia University Press, 2019).
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.