The dried figs of Carmignano
The dried figs of Carmignano
Once abundant and exported to America the dried figs of Carmignano are among the 365 typical products of Tuscany to be saved. At least as many as there were until a few years ago and it’s the technique used to dry and join them together, which is entirely from Carmignano, that distinguishes them. After the Second World War this crop, which occupied the margins of the farms, fell into disuse. Today, though some manufacturers are trying to give them value, an energy packed delight for after winter meals. As from 1st December 2001 the dried figs of Carmignano also have their own regulation and have become a Slow Food choice. The only dried figs of the peninsula along with others of from a Calabrian district which can boast such recognition.
The production and consumption of dried figs in Carmignano has ancient traditions: the Roman legions used them as a reserve food. For the same reason, compact and high energy value, were particularly appreciated by farmers working in the fields. The processing of the product has largely remained like the old procedure described by Columella in “De rustica”. The well-known mediaeval merchant Francesco di Marco Datini also talks about the figs of Carmignano. And the same territory was called “Carmignan da fichi”, thus identifying the peculiarity. The product, the result of an almost home-made is usually put on the market during the Antica Fiera di Carmignano, the first Tuesday in December, when on the surface of “picce” the typical sugary efflorescence (“bruma”).has formed
The few remaining producers (eight a few years ago, increased to twelve in 2004 and today a few more) now produce around 15-20 quintals of product per year (at 19-20 € per kilo), a quantity still significantly lower than the demand, even though production has increased in the past ten years. There are those who, through a consortium of Prato, sell them by mail order even in Germany and who supplies the local markets. At the beginning of the century they were shipped overseas in abundance.
The plant has never been in any case subject to specific cultivation and has always occupied the marginal areas of the farm: the first in line of the “doppioni” of the vines, the edges of embankments and drywalls and mostly arid and rocky parts of the field.
HOW TO PREPARE THE “picce”
In Carmignano only the figs of the variety Dottato are used to be dried Dottato figs, collected between late August and mid-September. The fruits, obviously the best, are split longitudinally starting from the stem with a cut no more than two-thirds. The two cones, partially opened, are placed upright on mats of canes (“Canniccioni”), placed in a confined space and subjected to the action of the vapours of sulphur, which is lit up in a bowl of clay to produce sulphur dioxide. This procedure is used to obtain dried figs with white skin (and to keep them soft).Then the fruits are placed in full sun, taking care to store them indoors in the evening. The dried fruit, after a period of storage in a cool and dry place, are then paired (“appicciati”) longitudinally, with the interposition of anise seeds that give them their characteristic aroma. The result is the “picce of dried fig”.
Dried figs are offered in the traditional pairings with vin santo and nuts. Recent local tastings have seen them going together with lard, Mortadella di Prato and ricotta from raw milk from the mountains of Pistoia.
Go to the Ficusnet project portal, the network of the Mediterranean cities of figs
Prince Charles discovers dried figs of Carmignano. Click here to read the news
The figs find their home at the Rocca of Carmignano. Click here to read the news