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Pistachio: Bronte’s green gold

Bronte's pistachios

The city of Bronte is located at the foot of Mount Etna and it is the ideal habitat for the pistachio. The characteristics available in this area are optimal for an outcome of a quality fruit that contains an intense green color and an extraordinary aroma.

Bronte’s pistachios: beautiful just like emeralds

Of all the other types of pistachios that are present on the market, the Bronte’s pistachio certainly stands out for its particular flavor. It is an important source of income for the city, so much so that it is nicknamed “green gold” of Sicily.

Technically, it is an oily seed which originates from a small tree that has thin tangled branches. This also makes cultivation difficult, because the plants then grow on uneven rocky terrain and need to be harvested by hand and without the use of any kind of machinery.

The farmer peel them from their shell and place them to dry under the sun for two or three days after having harvested the fruits. Successively, they remove the thin, dark red skin which they are covered with, thus discovering the intense, full-bodied green color provided by the chlorophyll.

When picking pistachios in Bronte

Bronte pistachio harvesting
Pistachio harvesting in Bronte, Sicily, Italy. Credits to: Marco Ossino/Shutterstock

The Bronte’s pistachio obtained the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) in 2009.

Picking the pistachios takes place at the end of the summer between August and September, but only in alternate years: one year the harvest is held, the following year the a few sprouted buds are removed in order to make the plant explode during the following season. The small trees do not need to be fertilized or irrigated; they care for themselves and need very little.

Tourists can see how the pistachio plant is grown, watch the harvest and learn about the reality surrounding this extraordinary Sicilian fruit. Local producers open the doors of their farms to show visitors the various stages of pistachio processing. But the icing on the cake could be participating in cooking workshops in Bronte, to learn how to enhance pistachios in home recipes.

Hints of Bronte’s pistachio history

The pistachio – whose name derives from the Greek Pistàkion – has a long history: there are testimonies dating back to the Old Testament. In Sicily it is said that production increased when the Arabs took over the Island from the Byzantines. Nowadays more than 4000 hectares of the Island are cultivated with the pistachio.

Benefits of the pistachio

This small fruit also contributes to keeping our body in perfect health. According to experts, it reduces the risk factors that could affect the cardiovascular system, including type 2 diabetes. It promotes the reduction of bad cholesterol, raises the positive one, and, more importantly, this fruit also protects us against the possible development of viral diseases. Pistachios are cholesterol free: thirty grams of pistachios contain only 13 grams of fat, of which only a minimal part is considered saturated fat. The rest is composed of “good” fats and fundamental nutrients such as: potassium, vitamin E and proteins. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and contain a substantial amount of mineral salts.

How to use the pistachio in Bronte

In Sicily the use of pistachio has no limits. The only limits are imposed by one’s imagination.

In Bronte, the fruit is not only used to produce ice cream and sauces: but also to season many different types of pasta. At the numerous pastry shops, it is used to make sublime pistachio biscuits but also to adorn chocolate, creams, and all kinds of nougats. In the delicatessen industry it is used as one of the main ingredients to produce a fine mortadella.

If the fruit is granulated, it is also used to for cakes and other desserts. Of course, pistachios can also be bought naturally and munched on raw both at home or accompanying a nice aperitif.

The products that contain the pistachio are really numerous.

Pistachio Festival

Every year, between the end of September and the beginning of October, Bronte hosts the Pistachio Festival (Sagra del Pistacchio). Today, it has been internationalised into Expo del Pistacchio di Bronte DOP and it is undoubtedly one of the most famous and eagerly awaited gastronomic events in Sicily, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year. You’ll have to navigate your way through the many stands and establishments offering pistachio dishes and discover the true excellences.

What to see nearby

  • Montalbano Elicona (1 hour and 9 minutes by car)
    Montalbano Elicona – included in the Italian Touring Club’s association of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” – is set in the Nebrodi Mountains. It will be possible to enjoy fairy-tale images of pastures, woods and plateaus, all immersed in a medieval atmospher.
  • Etna Park (1 hour by car)
    The Etna Park was established in 1987 and it comprises 59000 hectares of land. It was founded to protect the unique natural environment and the extraordinary landscape surrounding Europe’s highest active volcano.
  • Taormina (1 hour and 20 minutes by car)
    Taormina, perched on top of a cliff over 200 metres high, is a small town considered one of Sicily’s treasures. It is also nicknamed “the Sicilian Saint Tropez”.

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