Terre del Conero





In this section you will find many interesting facts and insights about our area, its food and traditions. You will also come across many tips about healthy eating, and there are some simple recipes that you can use to enjoy our products.

Fruit

The rich variety of flora that characterizes the Conero also includes fruit, in its broadest sense. There are apples but also some wild berries and wild species of the area, subject to specific production and traditional customs established over time. These qualities of wild fruit, however, are increasingly rare because of the advance of cement and the use of large machines for working the land, and only a few traces remain in the names of some districts (Fonte d’Olio, Le Vigne, Il Mandorleto, Le Figare, il Noceto, Il Ciliegiaro).

For decades these fruits have been safeguarded. It is not by chance that in 2005, the publication, in Numana, Piante da frutto del Conero (Conero Fruit plants) was printed. This publication represented a genuine attempt to act against an unstoppable decay of the production of berries and in the introduction by the mayor of the time, Gianni Spinsante we can read: "jujube broth remains only a memory; and  many people no longer recognize the flavour of the pomegranate , that was the subject of a delicate ancient Chinese fairy tale. Yet jujubes and pomegranate trees, in the past, covered much of the Conero and at the feet of these trees there were real markets. It was not part of folklore, but was a source of well-being and prosperity to the many growers. "

The author calls the Jujube tree "the sacred plant of the Conero ", and it was honored with the sign of the cross at dawn and dusk. There were in fact, according to estimates of that year, no more than "forty plants" left. Jujubes were always regarded as a delicacy: there were given as a plaything to children (hence the term "giuggiolone" identifies a person who is not grown up, and is still too playful and irresponsible), but also adults enjoyed them. They would dry these fruits in the sun or in the oven, or they would preserve them in sugar to obtain a tablet form, or even make syrups, jams and preserves, including the proverbial "soup", obtained by boiling half a kg of fruits in half a liter of water and 100 g of virgin honey (other more complex recipes also employed the use of some slices of apple and grape). They were a natural remedy against diseases such as cough, constipation and even rickets. The tradition of vernacular proverb recalls "when the jujube gets dressed, you get undressed, when it gets undressed, you get dressed", referring to the fact that it is the last plant to emit the leaves and the first to lose them.

The pomegranate can be traced back to remote civilizations such as the Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, Picenes and Romans, who adopted it as a symbol of fertility, love and friendship (Christianity added further meanings to its emblematic virtues and positive values). Already the markets of the ancient port of Humana had used it as a valid object of exchange. In the fifties it was still remembered as a much appreciated foodstuff along with jujubes, figs, almonds and walnuts. Both in Sirolo and Numana the great adaptability of the plant favoured its cultivation both in open fields, or in the garden, or even in pots. Now the pomegranate too is in danger of extinction. Authors celebrate its ancient healing qualities, using both its flowers, or its seeds (its juice is ideal as a diuretic) or its bark; among traditional preparations one should note its syrup, known in the market as "grenadine".

Another fruit that is less and less appreciated nowadays is the fig tree. In the past it was the subject of much care and attention. The figs were dried in the sun or in wood-burning ovens, also stuffed with almonds, anise and sprinkled with sugar; its dried fruit, if fermented, could produce a brandy, while if roasted they became a coffee substitute. There are many recipes of jams with figs, often flavored with lemon peel; furthermore we can remember the more laborious and refined traditional preparation in the Marche of fig salami, also cited by Giacomo Leopardi in his correspondence.

In the past Sirolo and Numana sold a great deal of almonds, while today among the flora of Mount Conero there are only a few groups of scattered trees. Almonds were (and still are to a certain extent) the undisputed sovereign of the pastry world, especially in the oldest and most traditional art of confectionery, with preparations such as marzipan, nougat, sugared almonds, and ‘croccante’. We should also mention almond syrup, also known as "barley water".

Even the walnut, having reached the Conero from Greece, has been reduced to a few surviving plants. These nuts were an important part of the food of the peasantry. It was combined with bread (‘pan nociato – bread with walnuts-, often a ritual of the first of November and especially loved by fishermen) as part of a pasta dish, or as a sweet (macaroons, honey, sugar and nuts, were a ritual dish on the eve of festivities, sometimes with ricotta and chocolate flakes). Instead during the summer solstice it was a tradition to try walnut liqueur, a distilled liquor using nuts that were still unripe, being gathered on the night of 23rd June, when the witches, according to popular belief, would meet around a walnut tree.

And finally, the arbutus which, according to a credible etymological hypothesis, owes its ancient name to the Monte Conero (from the greek komaros). The arbutus was formerly called cherry marine, and it was considered a magical plant, because an abundant consumption led to a feeling of light-headedness. It is used to make jellies, jams, syrups and liqueurs, including "watermelon wine " which according to tradition was made by the monks of the Conero exclusively with the arbutus berry.



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Terre del Conero Agricoltori per Natura, soc. coop. agr. Via Peschiera 30, 60020 Sirolo (AN) P.IVA 02474980428
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development