Production area and history
Production area: Municipalities of Chioggia, Cavarzere, Campagna Lupia eMira, in the province of Venice.
Cultivated regularly and continuously throughout Europe since the 16th century, it has found the ideal place in the Chioggia area for harmonious, natural growth and without harmful water or thermal imbalances. The red beet of Chioggia, also called Erbetta del Doge, is in fact a traditional spring and autumn crop, when the climate becomes milder and more temperate. The root has a fresh, white paste with evident characteristic red rings, its flavor is sweet and tasty. It is mainly consumed boiled, stir-fried, cooked in the oven, or under the ash, a method that is not easy to carry out but certainly suitable for guaranteeing the maintenance of all its nutritional properties. It can also be prepared raw, thinly sliced or grated, seasoned with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, perfect for preparing mixed salads.
Chioggia red beet (photo www.regione.veneto.it)
Chioggia's Beetroot is fresh in appearance, bright red external color, clean, without cracks, dents or excessively developed secondary roots, with a typical conical-rounded shape flattened at the collar.
It can be marketed with leaves, in bunches or in layers ordered in packaging usually 30x50 but also "stelata": the only root without the vegetative part. In this case it is always presented in standard packs (also in 3 or 5 kg bags) and can be successfully stored for weeks.
The plant can be completely consumed in all its parts.
- Root: it is the most common and general use, known and appreciated everywhere. It is also required outside the production area, in central Veneto, Belluno and Trentino.
- Leaves: this is the so-called "Chard from herbs". In this case they have the same use of Chard but they are more delicate and aromatic, moreover the smaller dimensions of the leaf ribs give the dish a more delicate and refined appearance. Particularly appreciated in mixed vegetables cooked with spinach, Catalonia chicory, poppies ... Appreciated locally especially in the Venetian area, in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Trieste in particular).
- Leaf stem: these are the characteristic and traditional "handles" of almost exclusively local use in a typical area. For this purpose, the part of the leaf stem that goes from the collar to the expansion of the flap is used; boiled and simply seasoned or baked, stir-fried with butter or other seasonings.
The production for the market, however, is almost exclusively that of the root whose product profile can be summarized as follows:
- healthy and clean. The roots are whole, smooth, not overly developed, fresh in appearance and regular shape slightly conical (flat at the collar), not split or chapped, without dents, lesions or abrasions. Those affected by rotting or other physiological changes are excluded. Free of earth and any other foreign substance;
- well turgid, firm and not dried;
- bright red external color, darker when fully ripe. White paste with evident and characteristic red and juicy rings (they intensely color everything they come into contact with);
- optimal dimensions between 5-8 cm in diameter calculated on the equatorial section;
- free of any foreign smell or taste, free of any abnormal external humidity;
- if presented with leaves, these must be intact and fresh in appearance.
The product is packaged with care, careful and homogeneous processing by origin, cultivar, degree of ripeness, color and size.
Chioggia red beet (photo www.agricoltura.provincia.venezia.it)
The mild climate of the coastal area of Chioggia and the particularly loose ground allow an accentuated earliness of the production that can start from mid-March. Excluding the summer period, which is excessively hot and dry, the red beet is located right in the Chioggia area and the ideal environment for it to grow harmoniously and naturally without damaging water or thermal imbalances which will negatively affect the quality of the final product.
The main production is that of spring, autumn and autumn in tunnels in the first half of November, harvested from March. Cultivation is not very complicated, however it implies an accurate choice of the most suitable soil. For the production, he proceeds with the sowing in the open field in early August to harvest from the end of September and throughout October. Practically in abandonment is instead sowing in March with summer harvest, a period in which the vegetables to be "boiled" are notoriously not in favor of consumers.
The collection is manual and is carried out by eradicating plants and cleaning them summarily.
Follow-up and packaging, which can take place with leaves (also in bunches) or without, in standard commercial packaging.
Most of the production in the Verona area where it is mainly used for the transformation into "pre-cooked" preparations.
In the province of Venice, cultivation is in sharp contraction to the point that in the Brondolo production market in 1998 a total of approximately 3,000 quintals of product are marketed with a clear and significant prevalence in the months of April, May and June.
The availability is still annual even if the "fresh" production is typical of spring or autumn. The great mass of consumption, however, is achieved with the "pre-cooked" in vacuum packaging, a technique that certainly makes everything easier and more comfortable but which inevitably involves the loss of the truest and most authentic flavors.
The fresh product is practically unknown to most, the younger generations even have difficulty recognizing it and have hardly tasted it sometimes. The remarkable gustatory properties, the different and various possibilities of use in the kitchen, the health of the food could however allow the same a much greater space also in the current market.