Carne salada is a kind of seasoned meat, to eat raw in very thin slices or grilled in slightly thicker slices, after enriching it with some olive oil and some drops of vinegar, served on a heated plate. Its ideal side dish are Borlotti or Saluggia beans, or boiled Broccoli from Torbole, with some olive oil.
Carne salada is obtained from beef fillet, obtained from animals which are bred in a natural way. You must let this meat mature, cut away all skin and fat parts and cut into three pieces. They have to be then rolled in a mix of coarse salt, laurel, black pepper, juniper, crushed cloves of garlic and rosemary. The meat needs to then be stored in specific containers - which used to be in wood and then in clay, in the past - in stainless steel, so that no airspace is left among the various pieces. The meat is covered and something heavy is put on the cover, to facilitate the water drainage and the absorption of the aromas. It is left to mature for about 12 days - they used to wait for 25 days in the past - and then it is ready to be tasted! Successivamente la Carne salada viene confezionata in sacchi per sottovuoto e riposta nel locale di conservazione per la successiva commercializzazione. È un prodotto che va consumato, preferibilmente, entro trenta giorni dal confezionamento.
The Ciuiga is a fresh cured sausage of pork and beef meats, to which turnips are added. It is usually eaten after boiling, sliced, sometimes with crauti (fermented cabbage).
It is produced between the first frosty nights in autumn and March.
Processing, storing and seasoning methods
Second choice pork and beef meats are used to produce the Ciuga, like the head lean part, the fat bacon, other meager and nervous parts which would otherwise not be used to produce other kinds of cured meat nor would be sold. The turnips are ground, using a mechanic meat-grinder with medium range outlet holes, the minced meat is then stored for two days in a perforated box, covered with a wooden board, upon which a heavy burden is placed to facilitate the water drainage. The meat is then rolled out, seasoned and covered with the dried turnips. The mix is grounded again once, using a 2.5 mm outlet holes plate. Finally, it is mixed 3-4 times manually. The meat is therefore ready to be formed into sausages, using a mechanic plunger to press the meat into the beef casings, with a 40 mm diameter and 3-4 meters long. In order to avoid potentially damaging air bubbles inside, the Ciuga is pricked with a tool with needles, and then it is massaged to better shape the sausage. Finally, the sausages are divided into 10 cm portions, using cuisine spring, although they are not separated.
Over the last centuries, the area of San Lorenzo in Banale, suffered great poverty: in this context the families who had the possibility to breed a pork were able to pay their debts, usually made to the consortium of food products.
According to the tradition the head, the minced offal, the blood and the innards stayed with the owner. This is the origin of the Ciuga: they were added with turnips, to obtain the only sausage they could afford, and ate with fermented cabbage, potatoes and polenta.
In the past every family of Val di Non used to buy a young pork at the exhibition organized on All Saints’ Day and grew it for 12 months, with potatoes, bran, vegetable wastes and hay. They then used this pork’s meat to produce the most typical sausage of the Val di Non, an area which had a strong tradition of cured meat production. They only used pork meat, including the goat, and less commonly the heart and the lungs. Today the Mortandela is produced by some local producers. However, it became increasingly difficult to obtain high-quality raw materials, that is heavy pork fed with natural food.
Description Very tasty pork meatballs, they are delicious if cooked slowly, in a pan, with oil and sage leaves, to eat together with the typical Trentino polenta. The Mortandela is a basically fresh product. The odor of meat and spices shall be moderate. The quality of taste depends on the quality of the meat selection: you should not feel knots, hard parts and cartilages. You can eat it row or cooked, with polenta, potatoes, boiled vegetables and herbs, like dandelion. It is a rustic, simple food, and needs to be combined with wines sharing the same characteristics, for example a bottle of Trentino Schiava, or Trentino Nosiola. You can also choose a bottle of Trento DOC, if you are looking for something more refined. This ancient cured meat is produced in meatball-shaped sausages, it is strongly smoked and has a brownish color The meats need to be deboned, degreased, freed of nerves, minced and added with a mix of spices. The obtained mix is divided in small portions, of about 200 g each. The meat mix is not put into casings, it is shaped into meatballs and laid on wooden boards, covered in a thin layer of buckwheat. After drying for 12 hours, the meatballs are smoked at about 25 °C and after six to seven hours, they need to be turned upside down, one by one, so that they dry and get smoked in a uniform way. After one week of seasoning they are ready, but they get even tastier after one month!
Peculiarities: The traditional Mordandele production entered a crisis period, because of the difficult processing and the economy of the area, which is almost completely based on apple cultivation. The Presidio recovered the Mortandele production, thanks to the involvement of young butchers and restaurant owners and managers. Further, the Presidio aims at stimulating cured meat producers to use pork meat of breeders who follow guidelines regarding natural feeding, to guarantee the high-quality of meat.
The Asparagus of Zambana is a white asparagus owing its peculiarities - delicateness, tenderness and lack of fibers - to the particular solid and climate conditions, as well as to the cultivation techniques. Trentino producers need to meet some criteria to be allowed to use the trademark of the Association of Producers: the soil must contain at least 70% of sand and its pH must tend to neutrality. These characteristics are typical of the areas where the cultivation of this asparagus developed, both Zambana and in the various valleys of Trentino (Lower Adige Valley, Vallagarina, Upper part of Lake Garda, Valsugana, etc.).
The first documented information regarding the asparagus cultivation in Trentino date back to the first years of the 19th century (1811/12), when after included in Italian Reign, as established by Napoleon, they published the “Journal of Agriculture in the Italian Reign”, containing the memories of various authors regarding the situation of local agriculture. The main development phase was around the Sixties, after the creation of a private commercial network, organized, capable to direct a large portion of the production towards exports. After the production crisis in the Seventies and Eighties, the surface of the fields are continuously and moderately increasing. The provincial production could reach 600 quintals per year. The As.TA Association - Association of Associated Asparagus Cultivators of Trentino - produces and directly trades about 150 quintals of asparagus per year.
The cultivation of the local corn is ruled by a production set of criteria, which establish the cultivation and processing techniques, to obtain a high-quality typical product, without using pesticides and herbicides.
Once collected the corncobs undergo drying and grinding, which in some area is still done by hand. The granulates are then grounded to obtain a mid-coarse flour, which you can eat immediately, or store up to 6 months.
Good quality flour should not have a humidity rate higher than 14%, it should not agglomerate when pressed by hand, it should not have unpleasant odors or flavors, nor brownish or greenish stains.
Polenta is a very healthy dish, nice to eat with meat or fish or with farm cheese: an energetic, restorative and tonic dish!
There are many different kinds of polenta, because there are many different kinds of flours. But polentas differ not only due to the kind of corn, but also to the water, the grinding and even the hands which finally mixes the flour. And, of course, the place and the climate are fundamental, because they enhance their organoleptic features.
The flour obtained from the Corn of Storo is produced in full respect of nature’s cycles, without forcing to obtaining more quantity. The corn belongs to the “Marani” kind, coming from fields which are cultivated in full respect of nature, biological agriculture, old-style grinding and the flour is thinner. The granulates are very red and are grounded in the Storo Mill. The flour is easy to digest and to cook to obtain a tasty polenta, an irreplaceable element of all Trentino typical dishes.
The potato cultivation has always played a fundamental role in the economy of Valle di Gresta. It is the mostly cultivated product, both as far as cultivated surface and as for produced quantity. They are called “Le Grestane”: they are mountain potatoes cultivated in Val di Gresta, using cultivation techniques according to precise rules of integrated agriculture. The brand “Le Grestane” guarantees the product quality achieved in full respect of the environment, as established in the Provincial brand “Dal Trentino Naturalmente” (From Trentino, Naturally).
The broccoli market used to be held in the square of Torbole, which attracted traders from Verona and Brescia too. The farmers used to bring large baskets or sacks full of broccoli and they bargained the price. Afterwards, they were loaded and nicely assembled on the carriages, after being cleaned from useless leaves. Others were loaded onto boats used to transport goods, before the Gardesana Road was constructed.
These broccoli arrived on the tables of the gourmets of the area, who used to enjoy them with some Garda olive oil and fried lake fish.
How to taste them
Ancient receipts usually couple broccoli with fried fish, but this is only one possibility! Broccoli are also the ideal side dish to taste with salty and typically winter dishes, like the “carne salada”, game meat and pork meat - which was usually slaughtered in this period. For more refined gourmets, the best combination is broccoli with boiled fish. All these combinations are pleasant because of the slightly bitter taste of broccoli, which results from cooking the vegetable with some of the leaves, which are harder and last longer before they are cooked, so they need to be put in boiling water some minutes earlier.
The flexibility of this vegetable allows for many preparations, also different from the usual traditional ones: they can be eaten raw or with vinaigrette, baked au gratin, steamed cooked or fried in batter, or tossed in oil, garlic and anchovies, or with breadcrumbs. Further, they can be eaten in sauces, creams or soups, with eggs and butter, in a soufflé or pie.
The chestnut, when ready to be traded must be brown, with large star pattern, well-defined segments, hilum scar similar to a flattened hoop tending towards a rectangle.
The best chestnut tree forests for the production of the Marone del Trentino are sunny fields, planted in a traditional pattern and grown as to avoid modifying the traditional features. Chestnut trees grow freely, naturally and irregularly, according to the available open space. The collection starts at the beginning of October, and it concludes, at the higher altitudes, at the beginning of November. Chestnuts are collected manually, waiting for them to be ripe and fall on the soil under the trees. Una volta raccolto, il prodotto deve essere immediatamente selezionato per separare i Maroni guasti e le impurità e successivamente calibrato, prima di essere destinato alla vendita. È consentita la conservazione nei seguenti modi: in ricciaia, in bagno d'acqua, in atmosfera controllata e/o modificata, mediante refrigerazione, mediante essiccazione.
Before sugar was discovered, honey was the only sweetener: it was replaced by sugar in the 18th century, when the American sugar cane fields began to develop and sugar became more economic, also because of the use of slaves.
Currently beekeeping is widely diffused in Trentino, following modern techniques and based on numerous and detailed researches on bees.
Worker bees live about 30 to 45 days, in the most intense activity period, and they devote their entire short life to work. Foraging bees mainly deal with the nectar collection. When they start to fly farther away from the beehive, they must find water, nectar, pollen and propolis. The nectar foraging bees fly from flower to flower, always of the same species and selecting the best essences, that is the most fluid, abundant and sweeter. After collecting their load, they go back to the beehive, unload it and start all over again.
Rhododendron honey, mixed honey and honey dew: these are the three main Alpine products. They are difficult to produce: a good season (every 4 to 5 years) produces few hundreds of quintals of honey. Only nectars forged above 1,200 m a.s.l. produces “high-mountain honeys”.
Mixed honey is produced with the nectar of numerous flowers: rhododendron, clover, sainfoin, wild pea, raspberry, wild thyme. The result is a delicate honey, different from area to area, from year to year.
Pine tree honey dew cannot be produced every year. Its taste is malty, caramelized, aromatic, with smoky resinous flowers.
Rhododendron honey is produced from very well-known and beautiful plants. It is fresh and refined, particularly rare and produced almost only in Italy.
In the municipalities of Bleggio Inferiore, Bleggio Superiore, Fiavè, Lomaso and Stenico, in the Giudicarie Valleys, walnuts cultivation has long tradition. If you say Bleggio, in Trentino, everybody will think of walnuts, because of its well-known and loved walnut production of that area.
Walnuts are collected when they fall from the tree, thus making the collection season particularly long.
They are dirty of soil, so they are washed with running water, and then dried. Drying can be more or less difficult, depending on the autumn climate. Walnuts are laid out on grids, usually in the attic of old houses, where the air can freely circulate, thus drying the walnuts.
Walnuts are energetic food, because they are rich in oils, but also very healthy, thanks to their high content of proteins, mineral salts - calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc - and vitamins - above all A, C and E.
The olive tree culture around the Upper Garda dates back to ancient times. Historically, its presence is documented starting from the 7th and 8th centuries.
Olives are harvested between November and January, with the “grazing” method, that is the picking of the fruits from the branches, using tools similar to combs. Olives fall on special canvas, to prevent them to touch the ground and possibly jeopardize the quality of the oil They are usually pressed a few days after the harvest. Oil is extracted both in a traditional way, in mills with millstones, or in more modern ways, so that large quantities of olives are processed very fast. Extraction is anyway obtained through cold-pressing, that is without adding chemicals, to obtain only extra virgin olive oil.
The olive oil produced around Garda Lake is of excellent quality, because of the climate and the processing techniques. The taste is harmonious, never acid or too dense or too colored.
It contains important essential acid fats (linoleic, arachidonic), vitamins - the fat-soluble A, E and K - and other factors which are important for the growth and protection of the body.
Olive oil is mainly consumed raw, but it can be used in many ways, raw or cooked, also at high temperatures, thanks to its composition which makes it particularly stable and easy to digest.
Peculiarities: el Pan de Molche (Bread with olive “crumbs”) This bread is typical of the Upper Garda Lake. It is produced in different shapes and olive “crumbs” are added to the dough.
The ‘molche’ are the residue of oil pressing when olives are pressed in old mills and mechanic pressing tools, creaming off the part floating on the washing water, which still contains some oil. In this way they use the entire olive and its oil. The result is a delicious focaccia, much tastier than the normal bread with olives. Every family had its own receipt, adding sugar, wine or other ingredients.
This kind of apple is the most widely diffused in Trentino. The fruits are large or medium in size, with an elongated or spheroid shape. The skin is moderately thick, tending towards yellow when it is fully ripe, with pink nuances in the most ideal mountain environments, like Trentino and Val di Non. Its pulp is white to creamy, compact, crunchy, juicy and moderately sweet. The Delicious produced in Trentino is slightly elongated, with smooth and golden skin and a small pink stain on the side which was more exposed to sun. Obviously, being natural products, there are greener and yellower apples, more and less elongated, with small flaws on the skin - due to fungi, hail or non-perfect humidity conditions. This, however, does not affect the quality of the apple, which can be as tasty as a more “beautiful” one. Usually apple picking is carried out between mid-September and the end of September, in the hill areas.
They are large, with greenish or yellow skin, often with a red side where they were more exposed to the sun. The pulp is creamy white, moderately juicy and sweet, acidulous, with strong with gustatory and olfactory characteristics. The Renetta probably comes from the Loire valley in France, it has been widely diffused since over two centuries and know with many names: “Canada Pippin”, “Pomme de Caen”, “Haarlemer Reinette”, “Weisserrenette”, “German Green”. The first proper tree-planting systems date back to the beginning of the 20th century, above all in Quattro Ville, in mid-Valle di Non, which was called “The Garden of the Valle di Non”, thanks to its particular conditions. After the Second World War the Renetta became the prevailing kind of apple in Valle di Non. In the Sixties, after the import of American apples, like Golden Delicious and the Red Delicious, the production of the Renetta from Canada has slowed down.
The Casolèt Cheese has been produced in Val di Sole for a very long time. It was also called Casoleti, or Casolèt dell’Adamello. Its dialect name comes from the Latin Caseolus, which means “small cheese”.
Description: Formaggio a pasta cruda, tenera, morbida, a latte intero. Pasta di colore bianco o paglierino chiaro. Smooth and regular crust.
Processing: To produce this cheese you use fat milk which is heated up to 60-65 °C and then cooled down to 40 °C. Natural milk enzyme or selected ferments are added, as well as calf rennet. After the coagulation, the whey is extracted and the curd is collected and stored in plastic containers which are put on a matting. The day after the containers are put in brine for 6 hours and then in the freezer for 20-30 days.
FONTAL TRENTINO CHEESE
Fontal is word dating back to 1955, coming from the combination of the names of two other kinds of cheese: Fontina and Emmental. The production in Trentino started in Val di Non, in the Sixties, and then it spread in the entire province.
The Fontal Trentino differs from the Fontal produced at industrial level, because of its organolepetic features, which are mainly due to the quality and freshness of the mountain milk used to produce it.
Formaggio a pasta cruda, a latte intero, tipicamente da pasto. Its texture is compact, soft, white. It is ready to be eaten 30 days after its production.
To produce this cheese you use milk of cows which are fed only with mountain farm pasture or hay from stable maws. The fat milk is heated up to 31-33 °C, adding specific bacteria.
The curd is divided into portions and put in special moulds and pressed. After 4-5 hours the containers are put in cold water or in a cold room. The day after the containers are put in brine for 3-4 days. Seasoning takes place in a cold and humid storing place. The cheese is ready to be eaten about 30 days after its production.
THE PUZZONE DI MOENA CHEESE
This local cheese used to be produced many years ago in Val di Fassa and in Val di Fiemme, in the local cheese production units and farms. The poor farmers loved this cheese because of its strong taste and flavor. The cheese wheels were processed with lukewarm water, sometimes they added some salt, to create a superficial waterproof layer, to stimulate the internal fermentation, thus generating the peculiar odors and aromas of this cheese. The Puzzone di Moena cheese or Spret Tsaorì - meaning flavorful cheese in the local language, Ladino, is certainly one of cheeses which gourmets and consumers love the most, if they are looking for healthy and tasty products, with a strong character.
Description: Formaggio a pasta semidura a latte intero, da pasto, con odore caratteristico e intenso. You can melt it on polenta, or eat it with cooked vegetables or use it as an ingredient for stuffed pasta, together with spinach and ricotta cheese.
Processing: They use the milk milked in the evening to produce this cheese. The milk is cooled and then stored in refrigerated containers or bowls. In the morning the milk is poured into another container and mixed with milk milked in the morning, and cow rennet. After the coagulation, cut and partial boiling, the curd on the bottom is collected and put in wood containers which are then wrapped in canvas. The wheels are pressed and turned upside down many times. After 5-6- hours they the cheese is transferred from the wooden into the plastic containers, and then put in brine for 3-4 days. They are placed in the seasoning rooms, on wooden boards. Twice a week they are wetted with a sponge soaked in lukewarm water, until a yellow/ochre patina appears.
THE RICOTTA CHEESE - POINA
The ricotta - called poina in the local dialect - used to be a very important food for the survival of the population. The old rental contracts of the mountain farms established that a specific quantity of poina had to be given to the local hospice, for the old and the sick. As for its processing, there are different sources. Corrado Trotter, in his book on the local costumes, traditions and legends, published in 1979, says “There were two kinds of poina: the tasty and soft goat ricotta, and the smoked, cured ricotta, which was used as the still unknown Parmesan cheese”.
Description: This dairy product is produced with cow milk, adding the acid whey to the normal whey obtained after cooking the cheese. It is a fresh cheese, the paste is very white, with very little holes, with a soft and fragrant texture. It is usually cut in half-cone shaped portions, varying between 200 and 1,500 g.
Processing: The whey used to produce the (smoked) ricotta is obtained from milk of cows fed with hey of stable maws, or pasture. When the curd is obtained to produce the cheese, the whey is extracted and then heated to 85-90 °C, and then the acid whey is added (agro). The ricotta comes afloat, and then it is collected with a skimming tool. In the past they used to store the ricotta in a wooden basket, so that the excessive whey would drain from the bottom. Today the wooden baskets have been replaced by plastic containers. About 8 hours of draining the ricotta is placed in a cool place or in the fridge, where it can be preserved up to 3 days, at a 4 °C temperature. Otherwise it can be smoked; if so it can be stored for about one week.
Peculiarities: In the past if they did not eat the ricotta immediately, it was smoked on wooden boards placed above the “arin” - the hearth - and stored in the “volt” - the cellar, at room temperature. The cheese wheels acquired a dark crust and the past was smoky yellow, with small and sparse holes, and a thicker and harder texture than the normal ricotta.
THE SPRESSA CHEESE
The Spressa is a cheese produced only in the Val Giudicarie and in Val Rendena, it is indeed one of the most ancient cheeses of the Alpine mountain area. Il nome deriva probabilmente da Stress, massa spremuta, poiché il latte con cui è prodotto questo formaggio subisce numerosi processi di scrematura. È il frutto di un'arte casearia "contadina" tramandata nel tempo, quando i contadini smagravano il più possibile il latte per ottenere un maggior quantitativo di burro, allora era ben remunerato. The Spressa was used above all for self-consumption and it was traded only in small quantities. Even today this cheese contains little fat, although certainly more than in the past.
Description: È un formaggio tipico degli alpeggi ma che oggi viene prodotto anche in latteria. The Spressa is a low-fat cheese, its flavors range from sweet to intense and spicy. The fragrance and the slightly bitter nuance make Spressa a good cheese for the production of another local dish, the Canederli. Otherwise it can be served with carpaccio or white meats.
Processing: They use the technique of the natural milk surfacing. The day after the skimmed milk is put in the cooking container, together with milk milked in the morning. While the milk is heated, natural milk additive is added, together with bovine rennet. After the coagulation, cut and partial boiling, the curd on the bottom is collected and put in wood containers. The wood containers may be either pressed or put one on the other and then turned upside down many times, to change the wrapping canvas. After a few hours, the wheels are salted, either with salt or with brine. During the seasoning the cheese is turned many times, and the crust is cleaned.
THE VEZZENA CHEESE
The Vezzena Cheese is an old, traditional, delicious cheese. It can be therefore eaten or grated on other food. Before the First World War the Vezzena was basically the only cheese used to flavor other food. The production was then quite limited, and it was seldom grated on pasta, which was pretty typical in the rest of Italy but used still very seldom in the old Trentino cuisine. The Vezzena was therefore used to add taste to soups, vegetable soups or canederli. After the war, Trentino was annexed to Italy and the eating habits changed: pasta became more popular in Trentino too. However, Vezzena was replaced by Parmesan cheese, also because the production of Vezzena had temporarily been stopped because of the war, when most of the pastures and mountain farms were destroyed.
Description: This cheese has been produced for centuries in the mountain farms. It can be seasoned up to 24 months. It is tasty and slightly spicy, it can be eaten with pasta dishes, and many kinds of white meats.
Processing: They use milk milked in the evening to produce this cheese. It is collected and cooled on plates or bowls, to which the warm milk milked in the morning is then added. They then add milk additive, heat it up and finally add bovine rennet. After the coagulation and cooking, the curd is extracted and placed in wooden, aluminum or plastic moulds, and then wrapped in cotton canvas. In the evening the cheese is put in wooden containers and placed in a humid and warm room for four days. The cheese is salted either with salt or in brine, for 10 days. Then the salted wheels are placed in a storing room for the seasoning period. Once a month they are massaged with flax seed oil and cleaned.
How to taste Vezzena Vezzena is an extremely mellow, buttery cheese, even if long seasoned. It gives off particular aromas, according to the pasture period. It it is produced with the milk of June, you can smell a delicate nuance of garlic. Experts distinguish it from Asiago, because of the persisting nuance of chives. After one or one and a half years, the little holes disappear and the cheese tends to break in to flakes, odors become more structured and your mouth is filled with herbal and spicy flavors. In short, Vezzena becomes a real Vezzena only after quite a long period of time. It is easy to understand why the Emperor Francisco Joseph wanted it on his table every day! Long seasoned Vezzena is spicy and you should try it with Vin Santo Trentino, a niche wine produced during the Easter week, which really deserves to be tasted! Less seasoned Vezzena should be eaten with Trentino Lagrein or Marzemino.