IGP Sila Potatoes

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IGP Sila Potatoes

Let’s start with a fact. Sila is completely free from sources of atmospheric and/or water pollution, thanks to the total absence of industries in the area and busy roads. A 2010 study indeed found lower concentrations of fine dust on the Sila plateau than those detected on the Svalbard Islands near the North Pole. This context justifies the IGP recognition for potatoes grown in Sila. In Italy, there are only four production areas that can boast of this denomination. It is certain that potato cultivation on the Sila plateau has always been a traditional activity and plays an important role in the local economy. In the mid-1950s, for example, to bring some order to tuber cultivation, the “Sila Center for Multiplication and Selection of Seed Potatoes” (CE.MO.PA. Silano) was founded, primarily responsible for distributing certified seeds.

Sila potatoes are grown at an altitude of 1,200 meters in the uncontaminated environment of the National Park. The soil is rich in potassium, and irrigation with spring water and a microclimate with strong temperature variations give them unique characteristics. As is known, the potato was imported into Europe from the Andean mountain range and represented one of the main foods of the Incas. However, like many plants imported from the Americas, it was considered unsuitable for human consumption. It remained so until the early 18th century when opinions changed radically. It was understood, in fact, that it could provide a quantity of calories 2-4 times higher, with the same plowed surface, compared to wheat. Moreover, it had shorter maturation times. Thanks to its great adaptability, it is now cultivated in all regions of Italy.

Potatoes in the kitchen have become a must, extremely used for frying or baking. Those from Sila, whose first references to cultivation are found in the Statistical Report of the Kingdom of Naples in 1811, are renowned for being of high quality and with very strong organoleptic characteristics. In fact, it is the only high mountain product cultivated in the center of the Mediterranean. This particularity makes it more unique than rare. To support this thesis, there is a 2002 study conducted by the Interprovincial Center for Agri-Food Experimentation “Mario Neri.” Experts analyzed the Agria variety cultivated in Sila and compared it with the same variety grown in other areas of Italy. They then repeated the process by comparing it with a third very similar variety cultivated in Germany. The result revealed a substantial difference in dry matter and therefore a higher starch content, which gives the product a more intense typical flavor.

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