Carota Novella di Ispica PGI is a fresh vegetable belonging to the Daucus carota L. species, deriving from varieties belonging to the Nantes Half Long carrot group and their relative hybrids.
The production area of Carota Novella di Ispica PGI is within several municipalities in the provinces of Ragusa, Syracuse, Catania and Caltanissetta, in the Sicily region.
Before sowing, the ground is ploughed to create furrows with a depth of 40-50 cm. Sowing, which is carried out with pneumatic precision seeding machines, takes place in autumn; this is followed by rolling, which buries the seeds at a depth of 1 cm. Fertilisers can be used, on the condition that they are mixed-organic or with meso or micro-elements. Furthermore, weeding may be carried out so as to eliminate weeds and improve the softness of the soil, as well as helping fertilisers to be distributed better. Harvesting is carried out daily from February 20th up to June 15th, with the help of special harvesting machines that only need to pass once over the ground. The fresh product is then washed, selected and packaged in the production area.
Appearance and Flavour
Carota Novella di Ispica PGI has a cylindrical-conic shape, with a diameter spanning from 15 to 40 mm and a weight of between 50 and 150 g. It has a clean appearance, with a glossy surface that is free from apical meristems and secondary roots; there are no visible cracks. It has a very deep orange colour. The internal part is fibrous whilst the pulp is tender and crunchy. The flavour is typical of the carrot, whilst the aroma is strong with grassy notes.
The first evidence of carrot production in Ispica dates back to 1955. The cultivation of this vegetable spread into the entire geographic area, today’s production area, from this Sicilian municipality. In the 1950s, carrots from Ispica started to be exported: several documents refer to how European importers immediately recognised a cargo of Carota Novella from Ispica, by its unusual strong fragrance. The importance of this product for the area’s economy is confirmed by Pina Avveduto in her book La Coltivazione della Carota ad Ispica (1972): “as deducible, the rapid diffusion of the new cultivation was favoured by the easy marketability of the product, which was accepted, or rather sought-after, for its intrinsic qualities by national and international markets. Indeed, our carrot stands out due to its precocity, the quality of its shape (size), its organoleptic properties”.
Carota Novella di Ispica PGI should be kept in a cool place, preferably in the vegetable compartment of the fridge, wrapped in a damp cloth. In order to benefit from its nutritional qualities, it is best eaten raw, in crudité or a salad, or steam cooked. It is one of the most widely used cooking ingredients and each recipe requires that the carrot be cut differently. It can be combined with other greens and served in hot dishes. It is well-known for its use in the preparation of desserts, soups, caponata (fried aubergines with sweet and sour sauce) and preserves.
The product is marketed as Carota Novella di Ispica PGI and is available in two commercial categories: Extra (superior quality) and First (good quality). It is sold in trays with a weight of less than 2 kg, covered with a protective film; in polyethylene or polypropylene bags weighing between 1 and 6 kg or in re-sealable bags weighing between 6 and 12 kg.
Carota Novella di Ispica PGI ripens at the end of February and is distinguished from other carrots because it is a typical winter-spring product; it is premature and for this reason it is defined as novella (Italian for young).