Welcome to Bronte, on the slopes of the majestic Etna, 'a Muntagna', where you can immerse yourself in the authentic beauty of Sicily, explore the volcanic terrain, and savor the unique taste of the 'green gold,' the Bronte pistachio.
The Pistachio in Bronte is called 'frastuca.' This name derives from the Arabic term 'fustaq,' which also gives rise to the term 'frastucara,' indicating the pistachio tree. The precious seed was known and cultivated by Eastern populations as early as the 3rd century B.C. for its healing properties, potent aphrodisiac and as an antidote against the bites of venomous animals. The spread of various pistachio species in different areas has been documented, but when focusing on the Pistacia vera, the species present in Bronte, it is believed to be originally from ancient Persia.
The major world producers of pistachios today are Iran and the United States, followed by Turkey, Syria, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Italian pistachios represent a small percentage of global production, about 1%, but of that, 90% is produced in Bronte.
In Bronte, the unique characteristics of the volcanic soil combine with the particular microclimate of the area, giving pistachios extreme brilliance in color and an unmistakable intensity of flavor. Bronte Pistachio requires significant commitment and effort throughout the entire process of cultivation, especially during the harvest. Harvesting, in fact, is done exclusively by hand, as it is impossible to reach the individual trees scattered among the rocks in any other way. Moreover, it occurs every two years, typically in odd years, to avoid excessively stressing the plant and to obtain higher-quality fruits.
Most of the pistachio harvesting process is done by hand. Not because there are no suitable technologies, but because it is practically impossible for machinery to move and work in the rugged volcanic terrain. Each harvest worker is equipped with a 'sacchìna', which is a cloth bag or a plastic container worn around the neck for hands-free operation. With the hands, in fact, they proceed to pick the pistachios, bringing the 'clusters' of pistachios to the sacchìna one by one and dropping the fruits inside it. Once the container is full, each harvester transfers its contents into larger sacks, weighing 20 or 30 kg. These sacks are then taken for dehulling, which is the process of removing the hull (the skin covering the pistachio shell) from the fruits. After dehulling, the drying process is performed, traditionally by spreading the pistachios in the sun in designated areas within the pistachio plantation, but today it's made using special ovens that, through thermo-mechanical operation, reduce drying times and lower the risk of fruit contamination.
Pistachio is a highly versatile fruit that can be used either in its pure form or processed to create both sweet and savory products
A portion of Pistachios a day (strictly without salt!) is a real panacea: diuretics, anti-cholesterol, anti-infectives, anti-anxiety and also useful in cases of mild depression. Contrary to popular belief, pistachios do not make you fat, on the contrary, they can help you lose weight thanks to the large quantity of fiber and the great sense of satiety they give. Of course, you shouldn't overdo it, because, like all dried fruit, also Pistachio is very caloric. The portion recommended by the WHO is therefore 30 grams of Pistachios per day, containing approximately 185 calories.