Ispica Sesame

Slow Food Presidium

Italy

Sicily

Spices, wild herbs and condiments

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These days, Ispica is known for the intensive production of early-season produce, mostly grown in greenhouses and polytunnels, but it was also an important agricultural center in the past, thanks to its abundant water. One very particular, ancient crop is still grown here, after being introduced to Sicily during the time of Arab rule: sesame.
The Ispica variety was selected two centuries ago by local growers and has a small seed, amber in color, with a strong flavor. Until 50 years ago, around 450 hectares were planted with sesame in Sicily, 400 of which were in the province of Ragusa, and particularly around Ispica in the southeast. This area was once rich in swampy land, which in the spring would dry up while maintaining the perfect moisture level for growing crops without the need of irrigation. Later production fell dramatically due to the laborious harvest and strong competition from imported sesame.
The seeds are sown between April and May and harvested between the end of August and September. The annual plant is very hardy and has few needs. It reaches a height of around 150 centimeters and each pod contains up to 70 precious seeds. Each plant can produce up to 150 pods, and each hectare yields just over 20 quintals of seeds. The harvest is the most delicate moment; the plants are reaped manually, when they change color but before the pods have naturally opened and released their seeds. The cut plants are left to dry in the sun for a few days then threshed manually over a cloth to gather the seeds. The graduated nature of the harvest means the operation must be repeated several times, until the pods are completely empty. The seeds must then be cleaned using special sieves: a tricky operation requiring great experience.
Sesame seeds are an important ingredient in Sicilian tradition, used in recipes for various breads, cookies and other dishes. Ispica sesame is mainly used to make cobaita (locally known also as giuggiulena), a special-occasion candy made with honey, sugar and sesame, with the possible addition of citrus peel and almonds.

Season

The seeds are harvested in early September, and sesame seeds and cobaita are available all year round.

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Ispica sesame is at risk of extinction. The quantities produced are tiny, and local food producers are forced to use Indian sesame. The Gghiugghiulėna association, formed of 20 growers and two producers, represents three generations of farmers and was started in order to boost the revival of the product. The Presidium has linked all of the actors along the production chain with the aim of increasing production and promoting the products (bread and sweets) made using the local sesame. It is the traditional food producers who most appreciate the revival of this crop, because the quality of the products made using the local sesame is noticeably higher than those made using sesame imported from Asia.

Production area
Ispica municipality, Ragusa province

Presidium supported by
Ragusa Chamber of Commerce
Associazione “Gghjugghiulėna”
Ispica (Rg)
Contrada Rio Favara
presidiosesamoispica@gmail.com

Salvatore Gambuzza (presidente)
Tel. 3394004103

Puglisi Giovanni
Tel. 3343178690 (vice presidente)

Members: Loredana Agosta, Carmelo Calabrese, Agatino Candido, Corrado Cassar Scalia, Bartolomeo Conti, Emanuele Denaro, Salvatore Fidone, Antonino Gambuzza, Corrado Gambuzzo, Fabio Gambuzza, Michele Gambuzza, Sandro Gambuzza, Giovanni Parisi, Pietro Peligra.

The Cubaita (a crunchy sweet made of honey and sesame) can be purchased here:

Aruci
di Giovanni Puglisi
Rosolini (Sr)
Via Ariosto, 94
334 3178690
www.torronesiciliano.it

Biscotteria Asta
di Salvatore Asta
Ispica (Rg)
Via Ruggero Settimo, 17
Tel. 0932 951350 - 338 2613930
astaenzo@libero.it

Pasticceria Denaro
Ispica (Rg)
Via Vittorio Emanuele,76
0932 959977
Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Salvatore Gambuzza
Tel. 3394004103
Puglisi Giovanni
Tel. 3343178690
presidiosesamoispica@gmail.com

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Lorenzo Lauria
tel. 392 6188743
lorenzo.lauria@drivermarketing.it
Ispica sesame is at risk of extinction. The quantities produced are tiny, and local food producers are forced to use Indian sesame. The Gghiugghiulėna association, formed of 20 growers and two producers, represents three generations of farmers and was started in order to boost the revival of the product. The Presidium has linked all of the actors along the production chain with the aim of increasing production and promoting the products (bread and sweets) made using the local sesame. It is the traditional food producers who most appreciate the revival of this crop, because the quality of the products made using the local sesame is noticeably higher than those made using sesame imported from Asia.

Production area
Ispica municipality, Ragusa province

Presidium supported by
Ragusa Chamber of Commerce
Associazione “Gghjugghiulėna”
Ispica (Rg)
Contrada Rio Favara
presidiosesamoispica@gmail.com

Salvatore Gambuzza (presidente)
Tel. 3394004103

Puglisi Giovanni
Tel. 3343178690 (vice presidente)

Members: Loredana Agosta, Carmelo Calabrese, Agatino Candido, Corrado Cassar Scalia, Bartolomeo Conti, Emanuele Denaro, Salvatore Fidone, Antonino Gambuzza, Corrado Gambuzzo, Fabio Gambuzza, Michele Gambuzza, Sandro Gambuzza, Giovanni Parisi, Pietro Peligra.

The Cubaita (a crunchy sweet made of honey and sesame) can be purchased here:

Aruci
di Giovanni Puglisi
Rosolini (Sr)
Via Ariosto, 94
334 3178690
www.torronesiciliano.it

Biscotteria Asta
di Salvatore Asta
Ispica (Rg)
Via Ruggero Settimo, 17
Tel. 0932 951350 - 338 2613930
astaenzo@libero.it

Pasticceria Denaro
Ispica (Rg)
Via Vittorio Emanuele,76
0932 959977
Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Salvatore Gambuzza
Tel. 3394004103
Puglisi Giovanni
Tel. 3343178690
presidiosesamoispica@gmail.com

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Lorenzo Lauria
tel. 392 6188743
lorenzo.lauria@drivermarketing.it

Territory

StateItaly
RegionSicily