The European Union has renewed its support with a new three-year communication and promotion campaign for PDO and PGI fruit and vegetables which will see the red radicchio of Treviso and Castelfranco Veneto and the Radicchio di Chioggia among the protagonists
“Europe signs the products of its territories”: this is the message that accompanies a new community campaign to reaffirm the importance of European brands that guarantee the consumer products of excellence and high quality. The products bearing the European PDO and PGI protection mark are in fact closely linked to the specific area of origin and have well-defined and guaranteed characteristics. Taste, seasonality, territoriality, guarantee of production and controls are fundamental elements in the distinction of products with a protection mark compared to conventional products, and Europe has decided to focus on radicchio, but let’s discover the different varieties.
The Red Radicchio of Treviso PGI
The Radicchio Rosso di Treviso PGI arrives in late autumn and comes in two varieties: Tardiva – long and tapered red and vinous leaves, with a central white rib – and Precoce – voluminous head with an intense red color with a white and very main vein accentuated, bitter taste and crunchy consistency Cultivated in 41 municipalities in the provinces of Treviso, Padua and Venice in fertile soils and above all rich in water: it is the area crossed by the so-called “resurgence line” that divides the upper from the lower plain . Radicchio Rosso di Treviso PGI can be produced by sowing or transplanting. The sowing in the open field, both for the Early and for the Late, is carried out from 1st June until 31st July. In case of transplant, the operations are carried out by 31 August. The Precoce type is harvested starting from September; it follows the phase of tying the tufts, a practice that takes place in the field and inhibits the normal photosynthesis process until the right degree of maturation is reached. The Tardivo is instead harvested starting from November, after the plant has undergone at least two frost which favors the red color. The whitening and forcing operations, which are essential to enhance the organoleptic, product and aesthetic qualities of the vegetable, follow, only for the Late Late Season. Forcing uses resurgent water at a temperature of about 11 ° C and consists in placing the tufts vertically in large protected tanks, immersing them up close to the collar for the time necessary to reach the right degree of ripeness. During grooming, the tufts are freed from the ties or cages, the deteriorated leaves are removed, the taproot is cut and barked and the radicchio is washed in containers with running water. The Radicchio can be tasted from mid-September until the end of April and enjoys all the specificities of a quality product.
Rich in minerals, radicchio contains mainly potassium, but also phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, sodium, copper and manganese; moreover, it contains B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K. It has first of all purifying properties and, thanks to the high water content, the presence of fibers and bitter principles, helps digestion and promotes the proper functioning of intestine. The digestive properties are also due to the bitter substances contained in it: in fact, these bitter substances stimulate the production of bile which favors the digestion of fats.
Radicchio Rosso di Treviso PGI can be stored in the refrigerator, taking care to keep its leaves dry.
Extremely versatile, it can be eaten both raw and cooked and lends itself to countless gastronomic preparations. It is in fact used as an ingredient in appetizers, mixed salads, pastas, risottos and main courses of meat or fish. On its own it is very tasty sautéed or grilled.
The Variegated Radicchio di Castelfranco PGI
Defined as the flower or the rose that is eaten for its beautiful shape; it is protected by the Consortium. Today it alternates its main vocation of salad with the increasingly frequent use in imaginative and choreographic recipes.
Its main feature lies in the expanded leaves with little accentuated veins, jagged edge and slightly wavy flap. Beautiful in shape and gorgeous in colors with creamy white leaves. The area of production, processing and packaging of Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco PGI includes the entire administrative territory of some municipalities within the provinces of Treviso, Padua and Venice. Here the very pure groundwater that descends downstream from the Dolomites and flows underground under a gravelly mattress, encountering less permeable layers such as clays, spontaneously tend to rise to the surface, giving rise to different water courses. The most important is the Sile, whose wetland – cradle of an extraordinary ecosystem – is protected by the Regional Park.
Method of cultivation:
The production of Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco PGI begins, indifferently, with sowing or transplanting.
The sowing operations, in the open field, must be carried out from 1st June to 15th August.
In case of transplant, this must be done from June 15th to August 31st. The harvesting of the Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco PGI takes place starting from October 1st. The traditional product manufacturing process is divided into the forcing and bleaching phases.
This is followed by the cleaning operations with which the deteriorated leaves or leaves with unsuitable characteristics are removed. The taproot is cut and debarked in proportion to the tuft. The toileting operation must be performed immediately before placing the product in the distribution chain.
After cleaning, the radicchio is placed in large containers with running water to be washed and packaged.
It is particularly rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and with a high percentage of vitamins A, B2, C and PP. Its origin is due to the cross between the Treviso radicchio and the escarole, the production is complex and must be precise in terms of time and techniques. The harvest begins on the first of October, followed by the bleaching processes that allow for the taste, crunchiness, colors and shape that make this chicory so special.
It should be kept in the fridge, covered with paper, to prevent humidity from damaging the leaves. If you buy large quantities, it is best to store it in crates in a cool and ventilated place, covered with paper or tea towels.
Its excellent flavor makes it an ideal food even in low-calorie diets, the important thing is that cooking is fast, in order to safeguard not only vitamins and salts, but also its characteristic delicacy.
The Radicchio di Chioggia PGI
Radicchio di Chioggia PGI has a rounded and compact head, with leaves of a more or less intense red color with central and secondary white veins, a pleasantly bitter taste and crunchy texture.
The disciplinary of the IGP Radicchio di Chioggia distinguishes the production into two types: “early”, with harvesting from April 1st to July 15th, and “late”, with harvesting from September 1st to March 31st. It obtains the European recognition of the Protected Geographical Indication in 2008. The early sowing is carried out from mid-December to the end of March in seedbeds and from early March directly in the field. For this type, the harvesting operations are carried out from April to mid-July and the product obtained, after grooming, cannot exceed 18 tons per hectare. The Late Radicchio, sown in seedbeds from early summer to early September or directly in the field in July-August, is harvested from September to March and cannot exceed, after grooming, the quantity of 28 tons per hectare.
Harvesting is carried out by cutting the root under the insertion of the basal leaves of the heart, usually 2-3 cm just below the surface of the ground, when the leaves have imbricated to form the more or less compact head.
Rich in minerals, radicchio contains mainly potassium, but also phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, sodium, copper and manganese; in addition, it contains B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C.
Radicchio di Chioggia PGI has many beneficial properties for the body, especially after cooking. Scientific studies attest to the high natural content of antioxidants.
Radicchio di Chioggia PGI is mainly consumed raw, alone or in mixed salads. However, thanks to its characteristic pleasantly bitter taste, it lends itself well to the preparation of various dishes such as typical Venetian risottos, “pasticciate lasagna”, rolls with bacon and grilled side dishes.