Carciofo di Paestum PGI is a fresh artichoke deriving from the bud (flower head) of plants belonging to the Cynara genus, Carciofo Romanesco variety, commonly known as Tondo di Paestum, named after the local ecotype from which it derives.
Carciofo di Paestum PGI is the result of a precise and arduous cultivation process, which over the course of the decades the growers of Piana del Sele have perfected. The artichoke beds can be cultivated for no longer than three years. Two methods can be used for transplanting: young plants with the root ball from the farmer’s own nursery or specialised nurseries; or carducci (basal shoots) taken directly from the mother plants. In the first case, planting takes place between July 15th and August 31st, while in the second, between September 1st and 30th. The artichokes are harvested between February 1st and May 20th, with an oblique cut on the stalk at a determined height from the ground. The artichokes are then selected and washed following traditional local techniques and transported to suitable establishments for conservation; this latter stage must not exceed 72 hours and the environment must be temperature controlled.
Appearance and Flavour
The flower head of Carciofo di Paestum PGI has a spheroidal shape and is compact with a hole at the top; it is green in colour with pinkish-violet hues and doesn’t have thorns. It has an average head size (no more than four per stalk per kilogram of the vegetable); the peduncle is less than 10 cm; the heart is fleshy, with a particularly strong, yet delicate flavour.
The production area of Carciofo di Paestum PGI is within the municipalities of Agropoli, Albanella, Altavilla Silentina, Battipaglia, Bellizzi, Campagna, Capaccio, Cicerale, Eboli, Giungano, Montecorvino Apuliano, Ogliastro Cilento, Pontecagano Faiano and Serre, in the Province of Salerno, in the Campania region.
The origins of artichoke cultivation date back to Bourbon times, with the statistical office already registering its presence in the Capaccio and Evoli areas (today’s Eboli) in 1811. However, the cultivation only began to spread with the extensive land reclamation and agricultural transformation brought about by the agrarian reform in 1929-30, which was thanks to the efforts of several Neapolitan farmers who created the first specialised artichoke cultivations in the areas adjacent to the famous Paestum Temples. Furthermore, in 1960, Bruni described the diffusion, value and potential of artichoke cultivation on the Sele Plain in detail, with particular reference to the Castellammare artichoke as the cultivated variety, later mentioned by other writers as a synonym of the new name.
In order to maintain its organoleptic characteristics, Carciofo di Paestum PGI should be kept in a cool, dry place; it is also advisable to remove the harder external leaves and stalk and to put the heads in a hermetically sealed container, where they can be kept for around five to six days. They can be consumed fresh, grilled, boiled or deep fried in batter. Carciofo di Paestum PGI is an essential ingredient in the Mediterranean diet; it has played an important role in the gastronomic and rural culture of southern Italy, particularly in the Campania region, for time immemorial.
The product is marketed as Carciofo di Paestum PGI. It is sold in rigid containers with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 24 heads. It is available on the market from February 1st to the end of May.
The cool and rainy climate over the long production period (February-May), which is typical of the area, gives Carciofo di Paestum PGI the characteristic tenderness and delicacy for which it is so highly appreciated.