The Ericine valleys run from the slopes of Mount Erice down to the sea by Trapani. Excellent quality produce grows in the red, salt-rich earth here: grains, grapes, melons, garlic, tomatoes.
One local variety is the Pizzutello tomato, which turns bright red when ripe. Round in shape, it is small and has a classic pointed “nipple tip” (pizzo, hence the name Pizzutello) at the bottom. Cultivated without irrigation for many generations (Paceco’s elderly remember it being grown for at least 80 years), over time it has adapted well to this part of Sicily, becoming a hardy ecotype. Particularly when crop rotations are respected, it is highly resistant to parasites and disease, and does not require particular care and attention, with the exception of some manual hoeing.
The farmers save the seeds every year from the plant’s first branches and store them carefully for the following year. They are sown in April, almost always directly in the fields, in clayey soil.
The Pizzutello tomatoes from the Ericine Valleys are very sweet: Excellent raw, they can also be pureed into passata or stored for the winter, hung up in bunches tied with string. Along with Nubia red garlic, they are a traditional ingredient in pesto alla trapanese.
The tomatoes are harvested in stages from June to September. They keep until February or can be found year-round as passata.
The Presidium wants to revive this tomato variety and promote the work of the few producers who have resisted the push for productivity above all else, continuing over the years to invest resources, labor and time in order to save the biodiversity of these valleys and this tomato in particular.
Ericine valleys, Paceco, Valderice and Trapani municipalities, Sicily region
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