The wrinkled Maremma chickpea is produced in the “land of tuff”, that is, in the municipalities of Sovana, Sorano and Pitigliano, in the Tuscan Maremma. Until the 1960s, chickpeas were grown mainly in the municipalities of Pitigliano and Sorano, where a local variety called the “Sorano chickpea” had established itself. In 1987, the Region of Tuscany commissioned research for the recovery and safeguarding of local varieties. Numerous seeds of local varieties were collected, including chickpeas taken from the municipality of Sorano. Its cultivation then expanded, thanks to its new fame, in the plains of the Province of Grosseto, thus suggesting to combine the name “Sorano chickpea” with the “wrinkled Maremma chickpea”.
The Maremma soils which are poor in calcium carbonate, favour the tenderness and how wrinkled the outer shell of the chickpea is. The wrinkled Maremma chickpea is small and yellow in colour, with yellowish veins. However, some seeds may be black. They are particularly appreciated because they are believed to bring good luck.
The plant is resistant to drought and low temperatures thanks to its deep roots.
It is sown in autumn and harvested in July, then dried and consumed mainly in autumn and winter.
Given its consistency, it is ideally used to make flour, soups and chickpea puree. The most characteristic local dishes are the cecina (a farinata) and the pasta and purée of chickpeas alla grossetana: the whole chickpeas are sieved to obtain a puree, in which the pasta is cooked.
The wrinkled Maremma chickpea is a product that has a long tradition in these areas, thanks to the presence of a strongly rural community, which has always maintained and preserved this variety and the traditions and recipes linked to it. To date, 16 custodian growers are involved in maintaining the variety, however this number still too low to guarantee its survival.