In the hierarchy of the typical farming family, the vegetable patch was usually the reign of the women of the household. The feminine touch in this garden would show up in a thousand details: the precision with which the cane supports for the tomatoes were fixed, the flowers interspersed among the vegetables, etc…The ancient traditions, and the local climate, ensured the development and expansion of this industry over the entire region, above all in two natural farming areas, the Aso and Tronto valleys, where almost every variety thrives.
The best known regional crops are broccoli and cauliflower from Fano (late harvest), from Jesi (early spring) and from Macerata.
Cauliflower has a long history here in the Marche, and over time it spread to other parts of Europe.
The Montelupone artichoke is also very widespread here, the early one (called violetto) from Jesi is picked in early March, while the one in Ascoli Piceno doesn’t ripen until April or May.
Highly prized and historical cultivation also includes fennel, peas, Ascolana salad, scarola and curly endives (typical of winter). All of these products began to be exported from Pedaso to the rest of Europe over the last century.
Sprouts from Macerata, red potatoes from Colfiorito, the white beans grown in Tronto and the Suasa onion were all also much in demand, while the rediscovery of ‘poor food’ like the chickling peas from Serra de’ Conti (Slow Food Movement) and broad beans (especially those grown in Ostra) is putting these old varieties back on the menus of the finest restaurants after many years of neglect.
There is also a wide selection of fine quality fruit from the orchards of the Marche. The hills around Macerata competes with Sassoferrato for the title of best producer of apricots, while Serrungarina is the source for the best Angelica pears. The Val d’Aso, a prime area for orchards, supplies the best Sant’Emidio cucucetta pears and Val d’Aso peaches. Peach trees thrive here in the ideal terrain and climate, while Pesaro is home to the delicious Montelabbate peach.
The pride of the Apennine region between the provinces of Fermo and Ascoli Piceno is the pink apple from the Sibillini mountains. A Slow Food Movement product, it has a sweet and tart flavour and an intense fragrance.
The rustic trees that grow wild on the hills of the Marche are an abundant source of Cantiano sour cherries, blackthorn, quinces, figs and pomegranates, and, as you go up towards the mountains, a variety of chestnuts can be found and are used primarily
to make delicious jams and traditional sweets.
Another main ingredient for fine jams are the many berries that grow in the woods, like blackberries and the fruit of the strawberry trees of Mount Conero, now a protected variety. Medicinal plants were already being studied by Marchigiani naturalists in the XVI century and they play an important role. In fact, the Marche ranks among the top three regions in Italy as a supplier of copious quantities of raw materials to the pharmaceutical, perfume and food industries. Mostly spontaneous in origin and found in mountainous and hilly zones, the main varieties are coriander, passion flower, green anise, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, mint, sage, bay leaf and wild fennel, used in special traditional recipes such as roast rabbit, roast pork, snails and crocette.
Text was taken up and elaborated by the pubblication “Made in Marche – 0km flavours and quality shopping”