Do not be fooled by the name, because this variety of cabbage grows anywhere apart from in the hills. It is actually grown between 1100 and 1330 meters above sea level, within the municipality of Forni Avoltri, where there is a small district, which is in fact called Collina.
In the mountainous area of the Carnic Alps, the climate is cold and humid, with a high level of cloudiness and abundant rainfall. Specifically, in this village at the foot of the majestic Mount Cogliàns, the highest peak of the Carnic Alps, the temperatures are even lower, given the peculiar geographical position and how the land has formed over time. However, the cultivation of this cabbage is favoured by this climate, as the species prefers a high temperature variation at night.
The cultivation of this vegetable, which takes place on terraced land facing south, has always been of considerable importance for the community: together with barley and rye, it was in fact one of the few species which could grow in the area. Its link with the territory is shown by the memories of the inhabitants of this valley who still remember the “cjapût”, the dialect name of the variety, as a precious resource of the territory. The cabbages sold well in the markets of the surrounding countries and people also came from far away to purchase them.
Collina cabbage is brachycephalic, meaning it has a head that is not spherical but a little bit squashed and flattened. The diameter is about 20 to 30 centimetres and it weighs around 1.5-2 kilograms. The leaves are thin with evident reddish veins, it is white inside and light green outside. In autumn the outer leaves tend to dry out, leaving the cabbage clean. Sowing takes place during the month of May, in a seedbed. The seeds, which have been handed down for many generations, are produced by a few growers who are the custodians. After two months, the seedlings are ready to be transplanted. The cabbages ripen around the end of September: they are harvested a few times (when the heads are well formed and compact) and by hand, with a cut below the head.
When they are eaten fresh, they have a slightly spicy taste and a crunchy texture, but there is also an ancient tradition that involves transforming cabbages into so-called craut grap. The leaves are cured in salt or vinegar. Then the external leaves and the core are removed, and the remaining part is cut into thin strips which are placed in a vat (brent) with alternating layers of cabbage and salt. This is covered with the external leaves which were initially removed. It is covered with weights and a lid to keep the contents under pressure, and left to rest, so that fermentation can start. After 40 to 45 days, the sauerkraut is ready.
The cabbage is harvested from the end of September to the end of October
District of Collina, Municipality of Forni Avoltri, Province of Udine
The Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region
Via Corona, 9
33020 – Forni Avoltri (UD)
Tel. +39 347 9249851
Slow Food referent
Tel. +39 349 2235944