Reventino Occhio di Bue Bean

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The occhiu e voi (“bull’s eye”) beans are roundish-shaped and have a cream/beige colour with dark brown towards copper comma-shaped spots. Their shape and colour may recall the iris of a bull, and this may be the origin of their name. This variety is planted in late May or early June, at the latest, while it is harvested starting from mid-October and, sometimes, until mid-November. It is a climbing plant needing supports and provides an excellent production: this is, in fact, the local ecotype delivering the best yield, among the many local varieties. When blossoming, the plant is covered in small purple flowers. Weeds need to be taken off so to leave air and lighting to the growing plants during vegetation. They are traditionally left to dry on the plant, even though, depending on weather conditions, this process can take place in a house too. In this case, pods are laid down in wide and flat containers (often made of bundles of chestnut tree boughs), leaving them at a certain distance from each other. These containers were then placed in a dry, ventilated and sunny place, so that the bean could dry up completely. Once they were dried, the pods were opened and, through a quick manual selection, the non-perfectly dry beans, that may affect the rest of the preserved beans, were thrown away. The legumes were then poured either in terracotta jars or cloth or jute bags (the so called cirmuzze), whereas glass is the favourite material nowadays. The occhio di bue bean is very rich in proteins, and tastes strong; the water where it is boiled turns dark. It is used to make soups, can match pork or wild boar meat, good to make fish soups and generally matches mussels, providing an excellent combination. It takes a long time to cook because of its mid-thick peel. Mountain communities from the Reventino area traditionally grow several varieties of legumes, and an important share of them are beans. Some peculiar conditions (such as soil fertility and conformity, as well as a mild weather) have made this land particularly fit for agircultural activities. Nevertheles, in the last few years, this industry is less and less important due to the fact that this area is now highly depopulated. The current production of the occhio di bue bean has been gradually replaced by other commercial varieties and it is now relatively scarce and provided by some small farms that grow them for their family needs today. This variety can be found in local street markets or in some local farms.

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Production area:Reventino Mountain (Catanzaro Province)

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Nominated by:Mattia Maruca, Maria Antonietta Mascaro