Annona, the bet of New Calabrian Farmers


Calabria wants to focus (also) on the exotic fruits and young farmers take the field.

The Annona Atemoya has a glossy skin rich in tapered but not pointed growths

In recent years, mainly due to climate change, alongside the crops that have always characterized the fruit and vegetable sector of the peninsula, crops of Annona are becoming increasingly popular that until recently were rather rare or even unknown.

According to a study by Coldiretti, its cultivar has gone from a few hectares planted with tropical fruits to over five hundred hectares, with an increase of sixty times in just five years. All thanks above all to the commitment of young farmers who have recovered abandoned land precisely because of climate change and have decided to meet new tastes and new eating habits for consumers.

Annona, variety “Hybrid”

And if in Sicily, among others, mangoes and avocados can be found, in Calabria it is the annona, a fruit originating in Central and South America, to spread over many areas cultivated in the Tyrrhenian area of Reggio Calabria. And it is precisely in the latter area, to be precise in Fiumara, in the province of Reggio Calabria, new farmers have decided to seize the opportunity.


The annona is a fruit originating in Central and South America

As already specified, being a fruit of tropical origin the ideal climate for the growth and maturation of the fruit is the Mediterranean one. However, after several attempts made in other regions of Southern Italy, it has been shown that only and exclusively in the the coast of Reggio Calabria finds the best habitat.

And as regards the characteristics of the soil, the fruit mainly requires medium-textured soils with a prevalent percentage of sand and silt.

Annona, variety “cherimola”

Belonging to the Annonaceae family, the annona is a fruit tree with an expanded and slow-growing habit that usually reaches four to six meters in height as an adult. It has slight branches of gray-brown color with elliptical, alternate, light green leaves.

The flowering starts in the spring immediately after the fall of the leaves and is scalar (until July-August). The flowers appear small, greenish-white and fragrant, usually hermaphrodite in groups of two / three.

It requires entomophilous fertilization through small insects, or pollination is carried out by small insects.

The fruit is mature when it is slightly soft to the touch and begins to show light brown streaks.

The fruit has a soft and creamy white-cream flesh with high sugar content, the presence of numerous seeds (variable depending on the species) and has a sudden ripening after harvest. The average weight of the annona is 210 grams (but it can also exceed 900 grams).

There are three cultivated varieties:

Annona cherimola or Cherimoya,

Atemoya – Geffner variety and to a lesser extent

– A local hybrid variety, which over the decades has gradually developed through the crossing of several other varieties.

While the Annona cherimola is the most valuable and is characterized by a green fruit with a homogeneous cordiform or conical shape, with a very thin skin and medium-depressed homogeneous areoles, the Atemoya – Geffner variety is a hybrid cultivar deriving from the Annona muricata or Annona squamosa and the Annona cherimola. Its peculiarity is that of having a shiny skin rich in slender but not pointed growths.

A delicious pulp

The taste is very different between the various species: the Annona cherimola has hints of banana, pineapple, pear, while the Atemoya has strong hints of milk. It should be said – specific Bellè – that the taste of this fruit is unique is difficult to assimilate to others.

As for the harvest, instead, for the Annona cherimola it is set between September 15th and December 15th, while for the Atemoya between January 1st and March 15th. The harvest is scrupulously done by hand, selecting only the fruits ready for consumption.

The plant is not subject to many pathogenic attacks, the most serious ones are referred to Glomerella and Phytophthora which mainly affect the fruits in juvenile phase causing rot or mummification. To fight them, it is necessary to eliminate immediately the infected parts and intervene with copper oxychloride.


The main gastronomic use is direct consumption of the pulp, with a small spoon. The fruit is deliciously sweety.

However, a rich jam, that is not a trivial aspect, can be made using freshly picked fruit.

But it’s not over here. Another well-played card by young farmers was to make themselves space in the world of ice cream making by participating, among many others, in SIGEP fair (International Gelato, Pastry, Bakery and Coffee) in Rimini in 2018. Yes, because ice cream to the taste Annona is already a reality both in numerous ice-cream parlors of Reggio that of the rest of Italy and Europe, albeit with still small numbers.

A spoon to eat an Atemoya – Geffner

Last but not least, the annona is not only sought after for its “enveloping and intense” flavor, but also for its nutraceutical capacity. It is rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals, but above all antioxidants.

In addition to having an energetic function, it improves the immune defenses, has an anti-age effect, protects from infectious agents, helps blood circulation, regulates intestinal functions, has relaxing effects and fights numerous diseases.

Undiscovered Fruits of Calabria: Mulberry Blackberry


In Calabria summer is the season of blackberries (in dialect “a mura”) of mulberry, white or black, which ripen copiously on the beautiful trees of Morus Nigra and Morus Alba trees, scattered in the countryside of Calabria, this Mediterranean region full of colors and perfumes.

Morus Nigra

In Calabria ‘a mura, from the Latin morus, is the fruit of a high tree, they are the blackberries par excellence, and shall not to be confused with ‘a mura ‘i ruvetta (blackberry of bramble). The first type is almost a rarity but with a little effort it can be found in local markets or in private homes to enjoy something truly ancient and precious for the health of adults and children.

Rich in calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins B2, C and K for a triple antioxidant action, mulberry blackberries in ancient times were considered true medicine for their diuretic, laxative, healing properties for the respiratory diseases and as an antianemic and hypoglycemic agent.


The mulberry tree was already known by the Greeks, for whom it was a plant consecrated to the god Pan and symbolized intelligence and passion.

…see the hat of Pan, full of blackberry

According to the legend told by Ovid in Metamorphoses, the love drama of Tisbe and Piramo was consumed at the foot of a mulberry tree. Counteracted by their relatives, the young men met secretly but Tisbe one day was believed dead by Piramo, who killed himself on the news and Tisbe in turn died of grief (certainly Shakespeare was inspired by this tale for his tragedy, Romeo and Juliet!!). From that day, the fruits of the mulberry were colored red at the behest of the Gods, as a sign of mercy and compassion toward the unfortunate lovers.

Ovid, Metam., Pyramus and Thisbe, “Love, Myths and Other Stories” – XXXI

Also the Romans loved mulberries, to be consumed fresh or in the form of a drink, the vinum moratum. Pliny the Elder called mulberry the sapientissima arborum, the wisest of the trees, because it is the last one who patiently awaits that the winter is really over to make grow the foliage.

The history of silk is also linked to the mulberry tree, which the Romans bought in China and loved very much, but of which they did not know the secrets of the production, namely that the precious yarn was produced by the silkworms that fed on mulberry leaves.

The beauty of Silk

It was not until 551 AD that the great secret is revealed to the emperor Justinian by two monks of San Basilio, missionaries in India who, coming as far as China, told how the silk was produced, also bringing with them, it seems, secretly the first breeding caterpillars and the white mulberry seeds.

White Mulberry – Morus Alba

From Constantinople to Italy the step was short and from then on also the morus alba, sustenance of silkworms, became widespread, and its production in the centuries until the nineteenth century had a great role in the economy of Calabria, especially in the area of San Floro and Settingiano (both near Catanzaro).

The picturesque village of S. Floro

Then, on the trail of the splendid past of the sapientissima arborum, let’s get the precious and sweet fruits to consume them fresh or, to enjoy them longer, we prepare a delicious and beneficial blackberry syrup, according to an ancient Calabrian recipe.



-2 kg of large and juicy mulberry blackberries

– Sugar (equal to the weight of the juice)

– Lemon peel

Ingredients for Blackberry Syrup or Jam


– Wash the blackberries under running water, dab them with a cloth and let them dry in the air for a few hours.

– Put them in a bowl, mash them first with a fork and then blend them with the mixer, an action that was once done by passing the blackberries with “u crivu“, that is, through a sieve.

– Filter the blackberries now by helping yourself with a very narrow mesh strainer, crushing the mixture and leaving it for a long time to extract as much juice as possible.

The Juice

– Now weigh the liquid, put it in a saucepan with the sugar of the same weight as the mulberry juice and a nice strip of lemon peel.

– Bring to a boil and cook over low heat, stirring for 15 minutes.

– Let cool, remove the rind and pour into previously sterilized airtight bottles or jars that you can keep in a fridge or, for a longer shelf life, boil tightly for another half hour.

Mode of use

You can use the mulberry syrup to garnish cakes, fruit salads and ice creams, to prepare an excellent summer drink by extending two fingers per glass with water and finally, put the same drink in the freezer to freeze it.

In the latter case, gently rubbing the freezed juice it, repeating the operation several times, you will get a delicious Calabrian mulberry blackberry granita.

Blackberry Granita