The Lenticchia di Altamura PGI refers to dried lentils of the Laird and Eston varieties, belonging to the species Lens culinaris Medik.
The production area of Lenticchia di Altamura PGI comprises the municipalities of Altamura, Ruvo di Puglia, Corato, Poggiorsini, Gravina in Puglia, Cassano delle Murge, Santeramo in Colle in the Province of Bari, and the municipalities of Andria, Minervino Murge, Spinazzola in the Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, in the Apulia region; the municipalities of Montemilone, Palazzo San Gervasio, Genzano di Lucania, Banzi, Forenza, Tolve in the Province of Potenza, and municipalities of Irsina, Tricarico, Matera in the Province of Matera, in the Basilicata region.
One of the basic characteristics of the cultivation of Lenticchia di Altamura PGI is that it cannot alternate with other legume crops. Sowing takes place between November and March, the choice of date varying according to the environment and cultivation method used. The product is subjected to postharvest disinfestation treatments, within 24 hours of the harvest, and then washed to separate any foreign bodies. The lentils then undergo a visual inspection to ensure a uniform seed size. Once any accidentally present pieces of metal are removed, the product is then stored in Big Bags lined with plastic material, or in silos.
Appearance and Flavour
Lenticchia di Altamura PGI is round and flat, and characterised by its various shades of green and brown, which depends on how ripe the lentils are when harvested. The Eston variety has a diameter ranging from 3 to 4.9 mm, while that of the Laird variety can be anything from 5 to 7 mm. It is sweeter than other Italian lentils, and has a distinctive grassy and aromatic flavour.
The Lenticchia di Altamura PGI was traditionally considered a product of the local family farm economy. In the 1930s, it started being exported to domestic and international markets. Around the 1970s, a number of factors, such as the abandonment of rural areas and the importation of low-cost lentils, almost caused the crop to disappear. In the early 2000s, it experienced a revival thanks to the desire to take advantage of the soil’s ideal characteristics and to practice crop rotation. The first "Lenticchia PGI Festival" was held in 2018, organised by the Protection Consortium to demonstrate the fundamental role of Lenticchia di Altamura PGI in the agricultural, gastronomic, historical and cultural heritage of today’s production area.
If stored in a cool, dry place, Lenticchia di Altamura PGI will keep for a long period of time. Being larger than other types of lentils, it needs to be soaked and cooked for a longer length of time. This makes it particularly suitable for broths, minestrones and soups; a traditional example is Lenticcha di Altamura PGI broth with sausage and Pane di Altamura PDO crostini. It is also excellent as a side dish, in salads or as an accompaniment to meat and fish, simply with a drizzle of oil and oregano, or seasoned with tomato sauce and bay leaves. From a nutritional point of view, it is rich in iron, carbohydrates and proteins, yet easily digestible thanks to the presence of many fibres, mineral salts and vitamins. It is excellent with a drizzle of oil and oregano, or seasoned with tomato sauce and bay leaves. From a nutritional point of view, it is rich in iron, carbohydrates and proteins, yet easily digestible thanks to the presence of many fibres, mineral salts and vitamins.
Thanks to the properties of the soil in production area, Lenticchia di Altamura PGI contains a greater amount of iron than other cultivated varieties. This microelement promotes the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells, and is essential for maintaining immune response.