Rocchetta Pumpkin

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Rocchetta Pumpkin

The Rocchetta pumpkin is characterized by an orange colored skin, large dimension, and a sweet-tasting, dense flesh. The fruit has a globe-shaped form, slightly flattened at its poles, with vertical grooves and an intensely orange skin with lighter vertical stripes. Inside, the flesh has an intense orange color and a central cavity. Rochetta pumpkins planted around mid-May and harvested when the plant is already dried (after about 180 days), and the fruit weights between 20 and 40 kg. In normal conditions, the fruit can be preserved until February or March, and in the best conditions it can be stored for up to an entire year. The pumpkins are used to make a preserve, which is often used in making tarts, sometimes with the addition of cocoa. Considering the large sizes of the pumpkin, making preserves helps to use up the entire pumpkin. In terms of savory uses in the kitchen, it can be used to cook risotto, fill ravioli, in soups and in the preparation of creams or purees. The particular conditions of the area have led to a natural selection of a native variety with characteristics not found among commercial varieties. Until the 1970s, the cultivation of pumpkins was widespread in the Bormida Valley, in northwestern Italy, particularly of medium-large sized pumpkins used in soups and preserves. Oral history sources say that pumpkin cultivation started in the area in the years following World War II, with the arrival of the seeds from nearby France, from where many farmers and builders emigrated for construction work and ended up staying due to the large amounts of snow and frost during the winter. In fact, the French variety Rouce Vif d’Estampes, a variety of Cucurbita maxima with a red-orange color, slightly flattened and with characteristic grooves in the skin (still sold in the United States) has characteristics rather similar to the Rocchetta pumpkin, with the exception of weight and the growing cycle (the French variety is smaller and takes longer to reach maturity). Since the 1990s, the cultivation has decreased and is now seen mostly as a hobby by some families. From the scarce production in 2004, only 60 seeds were saved by families in Cengio. To bring attention to the Rochetta pumpkin, each year on the third Sunday of October, Zuccha In Piazza (Pumpkin in Piazza) is held in Cengio as an exposition of the best pumpkins and local products. In 2005, the local Slow Food convivium acquired a few remaining seeds to distribute to the farmers and gardeners of the Bormida Valley who were committed to growing the pumpkins, maintaining their purity and rebuilding the stores of seeds. Of this harvest, 850 seeds were selected from the best pumpkins and distributed to 130 people in the towns of Cengio, Murialdo, Millesimo and Cosseria. In July 2007, through action from the Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Policies, a request was placed to list the Rocchetta Pumpkin from Cengio on the register of traditional agricultural products. However, if further work is not taken in selecting seeds for purity, in a few years, the species could become hybridized and disappear.

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Territory

StateItaly
Region

Liguria