Variegated Radicchio of Castelfranco
Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco, prince of white radicchio, adorned with the IGP mark in 1996 and nicknamed “the winter rose”.
It is said that it was a lady from the castle who attributed this curious name to the Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco: it seems that the elegant lady used to decorate her house with small heads of chicory during the winter months.
On the other hand, the botanical origins of Radicchio di Castelfranco are more certain: it was born at the end of the 19th century, from a cross between Radicchio di Treviso and endive. In fact, the shape resembles that of a head salad, but the organoleptic characteristics are absolutely superior to that of a common lettuce.
The appearance is the first element that makes the Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco unmistakable: it looks like a head with erect central leaves that give it the beautiful and typical shape of an open rose. Then the color is surprising: its jagged leaves are creamy white, with delicate variegations ranging from light purple to vinous red. A true masterpiece of nature, which amazes for the delicacy and harmony of the composition of colors. The flavor is no less: from sweet to pleasantly bitter, with more delicate notes than the red of Treviso; the consistency is characteristic and crunchy, so it is particularly suitable for salads, but also for soups, risottos, pancakes. The important thing is that cooking is fast, so as to safeguard not only the vitamins and salts it contains, but also its characteristic delicacy.
A product of such beauty and goodness originates primarily from the unique soils of the production areas, between the provinces of Treviso, Venice and Padua: fresh, well-drained, deep, the Variegato fields are sown from 1 June to 15 August according to the IGP specification. From 20 September it is possible to pick the first radicchio, to be subjected to the subsequent processing phases. It starts with the pre-forcing: the plants are picked with 10 cm of taproot and placed in crates with meshed bottoms, protected by plastic tunnels. Here they whiten, that is – in the absence of light – they develop new leaves without chlorophyll, with the typical color, flavor and crunchiness. We then proceed with cleaning – called grooming – and placing it on the market.
The product, to obtain the IGP mark, must be perfect from various points of view established by the disciplinary: in the purchase phase of the Radicchio Variegato with the IGP mark you can therefore only limit yourself to checking the freshness of the head, asking your trusted greengrocer for advice. .
The IGP mark
The IGP trademark – acronym for Protected Geographical Indication – is a European recognition: it is assigned to those food specialties that can be grown or processed only in certain areas of the peninsula, because it is precisely from the area of origin and from the local tradition that they derive their characteristics. determinants. It is therefore no coincidence that in Veneto as many as 5 radicchi have been recognized as PGI: the particularity of the soil of our region and the microclimatic peculiarities allow us to make the most of the cultivation of different types of chicory, without forgetting the fundamental contribution of manual intervention. of man, in the stages of grooming or bleaching, which only the industriousness and the Venetian tradition can boast.
Radicchio marked with the “Castelfranco Variegato” PGI must have the following characteristics:
Appearance: beautifully shaped and splendidly colored head with a minimum diameter of 15 cm; starting from the base of the head there is a round of flat leaves, a second round of leaves a little more raised, a third round even more inclined and so on up to the heart, avoiding the presence of a lump; maximum length of the taproot 4 cm, with a diameter proportional to the size of the head itself; leaves as thick as possible, with jagged edge, with wavy flap surface, rounded in shape.
Color: creamy-white leaves with variegations distributed in a balanced way on the whole leaf page of different tints from light purple to purplish red and bright red.
Taste: leaves with a very delicate sweet to pleasantly bitter flavor.
Size: clumps weighing at least 100 g, minimum diameter of the “rose” 15 cm. The maximum unit weight of the heads that make up the finished product cannot exceed (excluding any tolerance) 0.400 kg. The harvesting operations for the variegated Radicchio di Castelfranco take place starting from 1 October.