Valle Belbo Potato: Typical food-farming product
Potato planting, although widespread in any environment, finds its ideal habitat in mountainous areas. In fact, here the loose soils and cool climate on average rainier, favour this plant's requirements and make it possible to have regular cycles of cultivation and tuber growth. Furthermore, mountain cultivations are usually of a less intensive nature, frequently utilising manure instead of chemical fertilisers, and weed killing is often mechanical or manual but not chemical. At certain altitudes, there are also less parasitic diseases and adversities and/or less virulent, for which it is possible to reduce or annul treatment altogether. On the other hand, the minor intensity of the cultivation carried out on soils on average less fertile than those on tablelands, if a lower yield is involved, enhances the organolpetic characteristics of mountain potatoes resulting, moreover, in better storing capacities. Therefore, we can understand why these potatoes are-sought after by producers and why this cultivation has been maintained, even if with lower yields. Potato growing has been particularly been maintained in certain medium and low mountain areas where the crop has found its perfect environment.
The potato has a high carbohydrate content and is also a source of vitamins - above all C - and mineral salts, potassium in particular, so important for muscle tone. Moreover, it contains antioxidant and diuretic properties and is suitable for those suffering from circulatory problems. Moreover, it is extremely digestible and less caloric than one would normally think: 85 calories per 100g. Unfortunately, it tends to absorb seasonings a great deal and this is why it has always been banned from low-calorie diets.
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The potato, the botanic name of which is Solanum tuberosum, belongs to the Solanacee family, like tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, that arrived in Europe with the discovery of the Americas , but, at least in Italy and in Piedmont in particular, its cultivation began to be developed only in the 19 th century. It spread rapidly, mainly to satisfy the food requirements of most of the population in that period: speaking about cultivatedland, the potato was the crop that guaranteed the highest yield and, therefore, was a frequent part of the traditional diet instead of cereals.
Potato growing spread especially in mountain areas where the potato, called "bodi" in the Occitan dialect, or in some areas also "trifola", "tartifla" or "tartifola" because of its similarity to the rare truffle, started being used daily, almost more than chestnuts and polenta. As far as variety is concerned, new ones are currently being planted, although in some cases there is an attempt to bring back old selections.
This is the case of the Valle Belbo potato, the tubers of which are characterised by the size, medium-small, and by its particular organoleptic characteristics, which make it suitable to be eaten fresh. In fact, the sandy and hilly soils of the region of production, as well as the impossibility to irrigate, in view of the hilly nature of the region, supply utmost organoleptic consistency giving it an inimitable flavour that cannot be the case in other areas. Furthermore, cultivation in hilly and mountain areas (up to 900 m) make it possible to reduce to the minimum the phytosanitary interventions necessary, thus increasing the natural characteristics of the product. The above-mentioned cultivation methods permit potato production and commercialisation according to organic production methods. Many are the varieties cultivated, even if in the last few years, thanks to the activity of the "Consorzio per la valorizzazione e tutela delle patate dell'Alta Valle Belbo", they are trying to bring back the old varieties.
Belbo Valley has always been characterised by this cultivation, especially the Commune of Mombarcaro, which was particularly privileged thanks to the quality and flavour of its potatoes. Many years ago, there was a strong demand for Mombarcaro potatoes in nearby Liguria; producers still go to the Ligurian markets to sell their product and manage to fetch a higher price because of the particular attention buyers pay to potatoes grown in Belbo Valley. However, we must not forget that in the past, "local" varieties were grown, which today have practically disappeared; there is still some information on their production given by the local elderly people; the Consortium's work consists of looking for some sporadic presence of old varieties and to reintroduce them if possible.
On August 20 th 1998, the "Consorzio per la valorizzazione e tutela delle patate dell'Alta Valle Belbo" was founded in Mombarcaro, with the objective of protecting, developing and increasing the production, as well as selling "Patate dell'Alta Valle Belbo", in order to defend and sustain the valleys' productions which need to be safeguarded.
The production area corresponds to the communes of Montezemolo, Sale delle Langhe, Sale San Giovanni, Camerana, Paroldo, Mombarcaro, Murazzano, San benedetto Belbo, Niella Belbo, Feisoglio, Cravanzana, Bosia, Castino, Roascio, Torresina, Castellino Tanaro, Igliano, Marsaglia.
Consorzio Valorizzazione e Tutela Patata dell'Alta Valle Belbo
c/o Municipio - Piazza Libertà - 12070 Mombarcaro
Tel. 0174 97155
Fax 0174 907900
This is the case for the area at the foot of Mount Bisalta , where the farmers have set up a consortium for the protection and development of the product cultivated here. Only potatoes produced on farms situated in the established area can bear the quality seal issued by the consortium.
Today, modern varieties of different origins are grown. Tubers are different according to variety, and differ in shape, size, colour of the peel and pulp. Moreover, depending on the variety, potatoes differ according to their cooking suitability (fried, boiled, for gnocchi and mashed). In this sense, consumers buying potatoes should ask for information on the aptitudes of the varieties, according to what they will be used for, in order to obtain the best possible quality characteristics of every single variety.
The production area concerns the area at the foot of mount Bisalta , i.e. the Gesio, Vermenagna and Pesio valleys. Its epicentre is in the Commune of Boves.
Consorzio tutela e valorizzazione patata della Bisalta
Via Don Cavallera, 5 - 12012 Boves
This is the case for the Comune di Entraque region, where the "Gruppo Produttori Patata Entracque" has been founded for the promotion and protection of the product here produced.
Today, modern varieties from different origins are grown, although they are trying to bring back old selections cultivated in the past on our mountains such as the Piatlìna, thus named for the flattened shape of the tuber.
Tubers are different according to the variety and differ in shape, size, colour of the peel and the pulp. Moreover, depending on the variety, potatoes differ according to their cooking suitability (fried, boiled, for gnocchi and mashed). In this sense, consumers buying potatoes should ask for information on the aptitudes of the varieties, according to what they will be used for, in order to obtain the best possible quality characteristics of each variety.
The production area concerns the commune of Entraque.
Consorzio Produttori Patata di Entracque
c\o municipio, P.zza Giustizia e Libertà - 12020 Entracque
Tel. 0171 978108