From Campania to Calabria, passing through Basilicata, it may seem trivial to talk about pepper, but in these three similar and close regions, but in many different ways, one encounters facets of this fruit belonging to the Capsicum annuum species, imported from the American continent during the Spanish and Portuguese expeditions of the late 1400s.
The Pepper thus arrived in Italy includes many varieties and forms, but the one in the shape of goat horn is grown especially in the South. Generally speaking, it is an elongated pepper, which at first glance might recall a hot pepper, given its bright red color, but its peculiarity lies in the sweetness of the flavor. It also has an almost water-free pulp, characteristics that make it perfect for drying.
The Corno di Capra sweet pepper is a variety that is grown mainly in Lucania, in some provinces of Campania (Salerno and Avellino), in Calabria, a truly peculiar product, which in these three regions finds space and consumption in the many traditional preparations, but which is still little known in other realities. Three different expressions then, but also three different stories that differ in the entrepreneurial spirit and the passion expressed in carrying out this cultivation.
Our goat horn pepper has a low capsaicin content which makes it sweet on the palate and is similar to the sweet one of Senise. The work that has been carried out for the recovery of the seeds is very important, which today we jealously guard and plant to have the seedbed and from which we take the seedlings for transplantation to be followed by planting in the open field. Known in the past as the saffron of the poor, it stands out for its slightly thin skin and for its propensity for drying, given the low water content. The rather singular name derives from the same Arabic root of zafran, because the red color of the powdered zafarana recalls that of the crocus sativus, better known as saffron.
Regarding its process in the field, tradition has it that production begins in March, during the week of St. Joseph, when the seeds are planted doing the so-called “pruvulinu”; in April the seedlings are placed in a seedbed where they remain until May, and are then carefully selected and fielded in June.
Harvesting tends to start in August and can continue until November, obviously depending on the climatic conditions of the year. Once harvested, the peppers are cleaned, pierced by the stalk with a needle and string, collected in long necklaces (the “nzerte”) and then hung to dry. Lots of air and little sun, but always in the shade and without humidity. So they can last for months, even a year.
The transformation that we propose is interesting, in its classic consumption “’ ncruscatu “, that is fried quickly in a pan and stored in vacuum-sealed glass jars to preserve flavor and aromas to take anywhere and enjoy.
We thought of this preparation to make them a natural and crunchy, delicious and healthy snack. Dried peppers are cut into logs, fried in oil without adding preservatives and dyes and packaged in vacuum-packed glass jars. Suitable for consumption during savory aperitifs to further connote territoriality or for administration in pubs, where they can be used both as a side dish but also in preparations.