Nobody can forget the delicious, refined and light taste, extremely versatile and simple of “Red Onion of Tropea”.
was the Phoenicians and the Greeks who introduced the use of onion to Calabria,
learned in turn by Assyrians (a civilization dating back to 2,500 BC) and
Babylonians (dating back to approximately 1,895 BC).
cannot be mistaken if you say that this onion is an ancient gift to Calabria of
The historic area of production in Calabria is the territory of Capo Vaticano, precisely in the Municipality of Ricadi, but the Italian name “Rossa di Tropea” connects the onion to Tropea, associating its origin with the such renowned village, because of the simple fact that shipments of onions all over the world took place from the Tropea railway station.
Initially, the transportation of the
famous red onions from the fields of Ricardi to the station of Tropea, took
place using donkeys or by ox-drawn carts, along paths close to the sea.
Nowadays, the expanse of the Capo Vaticano promontory that spreads towards Tropea and the nearby Parghelia is entirely characterized by extensive lush fields (larger than the initial place of origin, of Ricadi) rich of “Rossa di Tropea” crops.
Further, such crops have spread from
the terraces of Monte Poro, Ricadi, long the coast from Nicotera, even until
the plain of Lamezia Terme.
The onion of Tropea, which boasts the Italian protective denomination IGP since 2008 is spread all over such large territory.
If you see one of this onion, such really healthy souvenir of an ancient past (surely, Assyrian, therefore old of 4,500 years!) has a round or ovoid shape, is delicious, light, refined and crunchy.
In old cuisine of Assyrians it was a common element, a must for every dish. The crops were large all over Mesopotamia, while the importation began with Phoenicians…
In short words, a magical gift of nature and history, cultivated on volcanic soils, fresh, deep, rich above all in potassium, studied by pedologists all over the world in order to trace their origins and justify the noble, particularly fertile composition, represents a real elixir of long life.
Indeed, Tropea onion prevents heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases, has antibiotic and antioxidant properties; contains “thiols”, natural organic compounds that counteract the accumulation of fat sediments in the blood, cleaning it from the lipoproteins that pollute and harden the arteries.
Further, it is indicated as a remedy for skin diseases, gives relief in case of cold and flu, tones veins and arteries.
It has a beneficial effect on diuresis and hypertension, treats intestinal infections, prevents kidney stones and pertussis, finally is diuretic.
For all these reasons, the Tropea onion, which contains only 26 calories per 100 grams of product, is indicated in the diets of heart patients for its antisclerotic power, fighting the physical deficit due to the high content of iron and vitamins, lowering free radicals and levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Oncologists, further, say that its
“flavonoids, phenols, quercetin and mineral salts” greatly reduce the
risk of cancer of the larynx, liver, colon and ovaries, while its chromium
sulphides are effective in treating diabetes, reducing blood sugar.
Oncologists, further, say that its “flavonoids, phenols, quercetin and mineral salts” greatly reduce the risk of cancer of the larynx, liver, colon and ovaries, while its chromium sulphides are effective in treating diabetes, reducing blood sugar.
The Tropea onion is ideal for sauté, in vinegar, in mixed salads with fresh tomatoes, olives and oregano.
Further it is the main ingredient of many delicacies including “ice cream” and a very good “jam“, accompanying meat, aged pecorino cheese, caciocavallo, “gorgonzola” (the well known creamed cheese) and omelettes in general.
In the memory and imagination of the Mediterranean, nothing is more associated with his diet and the splendid landscape of Calabria than the fascinating scent of oranges.
This natural association of ideas certainly depends on the fact that in Italy the production of citrus fruits and their export (oranges, lemons, mandarins, clementine, bergamot, chinotto) is concentrated in the southern regions and lies on the fact that Calabria produces about a quarter of the national production.
But this truth, together with the
fact that the area cultivated with citrus fruits in Calabria is approximately
35 thousand hectares (25% of the national citrus cultivation area) distributed
among around 44,000 companies, does not explain all the charm that this food
and its gastronomy exerts.
We need to go back to the myth, as
well as to history and the economy, to understand something about the
fascinating perfume of oranges of this land…
MYTH AND LEGEND
There is a lot of history and legend about the Orange. Particularly, Orange is, symbolically, a Calabrian little sun.
This all-Calabrian fruit, modern but belonging to the noble citrus family, is, maybe, the famous “precious gold of the Garden of the Hesperides”. According to Greek mythology, Hera offered to her husband Zeus some small trees with golden fruits, symbol of fertility and love, that he, for fear that someone stole them, had kept in a garden at the extreme West of the world, guarded by a dragon and by the nymphs Hesperides, girls singing sweet songs and protagonists of many other legends.
Another myth tells of Orange as the precious fruits beloved by Elios, the divinity of the sun, who, after finishing its daily course, went to rest right in the Garden of the Hesperides …
A TREASURE OF BIODIVERSITY
From the myth we have derived some ideas about the preciousness of this flower, the orange flower, capable of producing one of the most famous fruits in the world, but from botany we can also grasp many other information on the treasure of biodiversity that it offers.
Notwithstanding Romans knew the fruit, the European re-discovery of the orange tree dates back, after the medioevum, to a massive Portuguese importation in XIV century from China and Japan, while the orange tree was just very easy to find in Spain, Greece and Italy, where it was planted, well before the Oriental re-discovery, in IX century by the Arabs and, later, by Genoese merchants.
It is, therefore, commonly believed that it was widespread in Italy in the 14th century, particularly in Sicily, where since then the orange groves represent the peculiar Sicilian countryside and where many varieties are cultivated.
In the landscape of countryside immediately outstands this tree of orange, the so-called “citrus aurantium”, a fruit tree that belongs to the genus Citrus (family Rutaceae), which generates a winter fruit (the first oranges can be harvested in November, it is the case of “navelina”, and the last in May-June, the late “valencia”), and which can be up to 10-12 meters high, characterized by elongated and rather full-bodied leaves and by beautiful white flowers.
The types of oranges are very
varied, but they can be classified according to some characteristics, such as
the age of maturation, the acid content, the internal and external coloring.
However the commonly used distinction is the following:
of Blonde Oranges
The different varieties differ from
each other by maturation period (from early to late), acidity content, presence
of seeds, skin color and pulp. Generally they have a high juice yield and a low
limonine content (which gives juices a bitter taste), which is why they are the
ones mainly used in the processing industry.
BLOND ORANGES: 1) VALENCIA, 2) BLONDE OF TREBISACCE, 3) BELLADONNA AND
The Orange Valencia outstands among the other oranges, the Calabrian variety has a spherical shape, medium-small size (140-190 grams), medium thickness peel and light orange color. The flesh, light orange in color, is characterized by good organoleptic characteristics, few seeds and a high yield in juice, which is why production is often destined for industrial processing. The fruits resist for a long time on the plant and the harvesting period starts from March / April and can be prolonged until late summer.
Orange Belladonna is a variety of blonde orange not very common, due to its productive
alternation. It has a medium-large size (150-250 grams), orange-yellow and very
thick peel. It is a variety of blonde orange with excellent organoleptic
characteristics with a very juicy and seedless pulp. The Orange Belladonna is
used both for fresh consumption and for industrial processing. With its absence
of seeds, a very sweet taste and the possibility of remaining on the tree until
June-July, Saint Joseph’s blond oranges were called “the oranges of the
tsar” because they prepared the tables of the Russian rulers and notables
in the spring-summer period, when they went in vacation to the Crimea. But,
after the ‘October revolution’, at the beginning of the 1900s, the journeys of
the Russian ships that landed at the Catona bay (Calabria) were interrupted and
they ceased to fill the holds with the citrus fruits of Reggio.
The Belladonna orange, also called
“ovale di San Giuseppe”, takes its name from the hamlet of Villa San Giuseppe,
where it is cultivated above all along the valleys of the Gallico and Catona
rivers; it is harvested from May onwards and is a sweet citrus, seedless and
much appreciated as well as being an important emblem of Calabrian biodiversity
in agriculture. The orange-colored fruit is oval (sometimes sub-ovoid) and
apyrene (or has very few seeds, generally from one to three) and has an average
size of 7.5 cm of median diameter and up to 8 cm on average longitudinal
diameter. It has an average weight of 220gr. The peel thickness is medium (5-6
mm) with a medium papillated surface. The pulp is rich in juice over
Trebisacce’s Arancia Bionda (likely mutation of the Belladonna orange) is a Calabrian orange variety typical of the high ionian country in the province of Cosenza from which it takes its name. It is a late species whose maturation takes place between March and May in a production area of only 65 hectares. Inserted in Traditional Agri-food products, it is awaiting the coveted I.G.P. certification. Its cultivation techniques have not changed over time. Even the traditional pruning techniques have remained unchanged (pruning is yearly and manual). The undisputed quality of this fruit is its juiciness, characteristic of a sweet and intense taste. Numerous organoleptic properties make it an indispensable ingredient in the kitchen. In the gastronomic tradition of the place, it is common fresh consumption or as an ingredient for a sweet and sour salad along with a fennel, olive oil, sale, black pepper and lemon drops. This Calabrese orange is also used for the preparation of jams, candied fruit, sweets, syrups, granitas and liqueurs.
The Calabrese Oval Orange is historically considered as one of the
most valuable cultivars. Today the Calabrese Oval Orange appears to be little
cultivated due to the low yields compared to the Arancia Valencia. The fruit,
as the name suggests, is oval, of medium size (160-200 grams) with a
medium-thick peel and a light orange color. The pulp is juicy and has few
seeds. Maturation takes place in March and the harvest can be forwarded until
OMBELICATE OR NAVEL ORANGES: 1) WASHINGTON 2) NAVELINA 3) NEWHALL 4)
These varieties of oranges have at the apex a scar that is called the navel or navel. It is a second partially developed fruit that is incorporated into the main one. These fruits are also seedless, as the flowers are sterile and pollen is not produced. Navel oranges are mainly intended for fresh consumption as they are poorly suited for industrial processing.
Washington Navel Orange is the forefather of the Navel Oranges and after the Orange Valencia it is the most widespread cultivar in the world. It probably derives from the spontaneous mutation of orange Selecta and only after the introduction in the United States has it known a wide diffusion. Washington Navel oranges have a large size (up to 350 grams), spherical or slightly elongated. The skin is an intense orange color, while the seedless pulp is fine and rather firm. The period of maturation goes from the end of December to March. Today there are several clones of Washington Navel Orange.
Navelina Orange is a mutation native to Orange California and is also called
“Early Navel”. The Navelina orange has a smaller size than the
Washington Navel. The peel is of an intense orange color with an average
thickness, while the flesh, of a firm consistency, has a very pleasant taste.
The maturation is anticipated compared to the Washington Navel and can be
carried out from November. It resists very long on the plant increasing the
is an orignary mutation of Orange California. It has a high size or medium
thickness peel and quite intense orange color. The shape is slightly more
elongated than other Navel varieties. The pulp is tender and has good
Navelate Orange is a mutation of the Washington Navel. The fruits of Navelate have a medium-high size (200 grams), oval or slightly elongated shape. The flesh is orange, tender and very juicy. It also has an excellent taste. The ripening period is medium-late and the harvest can be extended until June. Its diffusion is limited due to the low productivity compared to some varieties of Blonde Oranges (e.g. Valencia).
VARIETIES OF PIGMENTED ORANGES (“RED ORANGES”)
The fruits belonging to the
varieties of pigmented oranges are characterized by the presence in the skin
and in the pulp of red pigments, the anthocyanins. These fruits have a peculiar
taste due to the high level of acidity and sugar. Pigmentation is influenced by
both genetic factors and environmental factors, in particular the climate. In
fact, pigmentation is accentuated when there are strong temperature changes
during the day. Furthermore, the fruits of the same variety can present a
variable level of pigmentation in different years or in different places of
cultivation. The production of red oranges worldwide is limited almost
exclusively to southern Italy (Calabria and Sicily) and reaches about 50% of
the production of Italian oranges (down compared to the past).
The Orange “Sanguinello” is a variety of red orange, which has experienced a certain diffusion in the past for the good quality of the fruits and for the late ripening period. It has a spherical shape and a medium size (150-200 grams). The peel, of medium thickness, is of an intense orange color with red shades, while the color of the pulp is red and the taste is very good. The citric acid content is high.
The Orange “Moro” is the variety of red oranges that has the highest
pigmentation even if in recent years the cultivated area has decreased. It has
a globular shape, a medium size (150 grams) and a medium thickness peel. The
pulp is dark red, almost purple. The maturation takes place at the beginning of
December, but the Moro variety oranges reach the optimal organoleptic qualities
The Orange “Tarocco” represents one of the main specimens of red orange: it entered Italy only in the 17th century, imported from China by a Jesuit monk. We have their own representation by the painter Bartolomeo Bimbi who worked under the Grand Dukes of Tuscany between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
To this variety belong by now
numerous clones with different characteristics, such as ripening time, size,
pigmentation intensity and organoleptic qualities. The main clones are:
The normal gastronomic use of oranges is consumption of fresh fruit or of fruit juices, liqueurs, essences for sweets, candied fruit and dried fruit.
From the nutritional point of view,
oranges are an important source of vitamins: above all C and A, but also a
large part of those of group B, (in particular Tiamina, Riboflavin and in
addition to vitamin PP or Niacin). For the daily requirement of vitamin C, just
consume 2 or 3 oranges a day. Vitamin C is important first because it helps to
strengthen the immune system and thus helps prevent colds and colds.
The vitamin C contained in the
orange showed antianemic properties because it favors the absorption of iron,
useful for the formation of red blood cells.
The orange is particularly rich in terpenes which, taken regularly in a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, have proved to be very effective in the prevention of colon and rectum cancers.
The nutritional values per 100 grams
part: 80 g – 34 Kcal
protein: 0 g
proteins: 0.7 g
C: 50 mg
As for the therapeutic properties of the oranges, most of the vitamin C is found in the albedo of the skin and in the white films that cover the segments. In fact, the juice contains just over 25%.
Oranges have few calories, only 47
kcal per 100g; Furthermore, these calories are absorbed very slowly. In fact
the glycemic index is low (average 42), as is very low the glycemic load (34).
Regular consumption of oranges can:
Bones and Teeth;
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE, TASTE THE CALABRIAN ORANGES!