Perhaps, like me, you’ve never heard of chinotto? My introduction was in September when we visited a chinotto plantation in the Savona province of Liguria… Join me, won’t you, and we’ll learn about this unusual fruit together…
🍊 What is Chinotto (pronounced key-NOH-toe)?
Chinotto, also known as the myrtle-leaved orange tree, is a small and compact tree that bears a bitter or sour/tart fruit that resembles small oranges.
🍊 Chinotto is used to make a variety of edibles including: honey, jams & marmalades, oil, candied chinotto, a carbonated soft drink, fruit nectar and even a liqueur.
Sources tell us that the chinotto tree was probably first brought to the Ligurian coast from China by a sailor in the 16th century. Here in the Savona province, thanks to a temperate year-round climate, it flourished and due to its rich concentration of vitamin C, it was cultivated and favored by sailors to help prevent scurvy during sea voyages throughout the 1800’s.
🍊 In 1877 the bitter fruit was first candied in Liguria when Silvestre-Allemand moved to Savona from France. Many others opened soon after, and they perfected the art of candying the citrus fruit. Because of its healing properties that helped ward off diseases, it became popular among travelers. And the carbonated soft drink, with its distinctive bitter taste and reputation as a digestif, remains a popular alternative to coca cola.
Even though chinotto is found in other areas, the Savona chinotto has particular characteristics:
”They have done some laboratory tests on the varieties of chinotto, which showed that the chinotto of Savona has different genetic characteristics and distinct from other varieties, both chemical and organoleptic. The chinotto of Savona has particular nutritional and chemical properties which make it good both for food, wellness and cosmetics. In addition, the chinotto is rich in vitamin C, stimulates the digestive functions and the flowers have anti-insomnia effects.” (* Source cited below)
🍊 Visiting a Chinotto Plantation
Here on the outskirts of Final Ligure in Savona province of Liguria there are a dozen growers.
Today we will visit Alessandro and Mariastella of Azienda Agricola Parodi Alessandro.
🍊 Mariastella shares the story of their plantation. In 1930, this land was rented then purchased by Alessandro’s grandfather who worked the land in order to save enough money to get married. Over the years and since the plantation passed to Alessandro in 1995, there have been several times when the entire plantation was decimated by frost and had to be replanted.
🍊 However Alessandro and Mariastella have persisted as has the unique Chinotto di Savona itself which, in 2004, was recognized by and included in the Slow Food Movement.
In addition to harvesting chinotto, they grow spectacular a variety of spectacular vegetables which they offer for sale at the local market. Their bounty includes: organic trompete (trumpet squash), cipolle (onions), pomodori (tomatoes), aglio (garlic), melanzane (eggplants), and even kiwi!
🍊 We are treated to a delicious and informative sampling of some of the products that Mariastella and her daughter-in-law make in their certified laboratory.
In their tasting room, located on the plantation, we enjoy tasty bites of this unusual fruit paired with cheese, fruit and bread including: homemade sweet and savory marmalade, oil, honey, fruit drinks, and a liqueur…
This has been such an interesting visit – not only to sample and learn more about this unusual fruit but to meet the Parodi family whose commitment and hard work preserve a family and local tradition.
♥ Wouldn’t you love to join us for this and so many other amazing experiences in the spectacular Italian Riviera? ♥
♥ Join me for “la dolce vita” on the Italian Riviera! ♥