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South Tyrolean vegetables

Interesting facts about potatoes, cauliflower etc.

The seal of quality is awarded to several different types of vegetable, mainly cauliflower, radicchio, beetroot, iceberg lettuce, potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, sauerkraut, red cabbage and silver beets. Find out more here about the different types of vegetable and their characteristics. You can also buy vegetables other than those listed here, but they are usually cultivated in smaller quantities.

Asparagus

South Tyrolean asparagus is mainly grown in the Etschtal (Val d’Adige). It thrives best in sandy soil rich in humus. However, the long hours of sunshine have a particularly beneficial effect on the quality of the asparagus.
Asparagus is divided into several categories, all of which have the same quality in terms of freshness, taste and healthfulness. The categories are defined as follows:

Asparagus is a healthy vegetable which is particularly low in calories. Along with important nutrients (potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron) and vitamins (A, C, E, B6, B2, B1), it also contains aspartic acid. This substance was discovered by the ancient Greeks and used to detoxify the body. Eating asparagus also boosts kidney activity and cleanses the skin.


Cauliflower

Cauliflower has been grown in Italy for the last 300 years. The largest area of cauliflower cultivation in South Tyrol is located in Laas in the Venosta Valley. However, South Tyrolean cauliflower is also grown in the Eisack and Puster valleys and on the Ritten plateau. Being allowed to ripen slowly in the South Tyrolean mountains allows the cauliflower to develop a more intensive flavor and aroma in cooking.The valuable nutrients it contains, which include various minerals and vitamin C, means it should be an indispensable part of the diet of every child and adult.

South Tyrolean cauliflower with the seal of quality is white, lustrous and particularly firm. Cauliflower is very versatile. You can boil it, steam it, gratinate it or eat it raw. Its mild taste makes it ideal for vegetarian dishes or as a side-dish with fish, meat, poultry or eggs.

Radicchio

South Tyrolean radicchio is mainly cultivated in the Puster valley and in Vinschgau. Like all South Tyrolean vegetables, radicchio grows at high altitudes. The fresh mountain air means that it takes longer to ripen. South Tyrolean radicchio is therefore a particularly intensive shade of red and has an excellent flavor. Radicchio is a member of the chicory family and is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, minerals and fiber. The bitter substances in this vegetable stimulate the appetite. Radicchio is very versatile; you can use it raw in salads, grill it, use it in risotto or cover it with cheese and bake it in the oven.

Iceberg lettuce

This salad variety originally came from California. South Tyrol’s climate and soil provide ideal conditions for this salad to grow strong and mature slowly. Iceberg lettuce is rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamin A. You can use it in sandwiches or to garnish main dishes.

Beetroot

Beetroot is related to sugar beets and chard. People were familiar with it even in ancient times. In medieval times, everything which grew under the earth was viewed with skepticism. However, in the 16th century, this vegetable began to spread throughout Europe. Beetroot grows in the South Tyrolean mountains in a healthy natural environment. It is mainly cultivated in the Puster valley. You can buy beetroot raw, cooked and vacuum packaged or in jars.

Red beetroot has a lot of valuable nutrients. There is a traditional saying which goes: “Beetroot strengthens the weak and gives courage to the timid”. Red beetroot contains a high percentage of folic acid, minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, phosphor, magnesium, sulphur and iodine, provitamin A and vitamins B1, B2 and B6. The sweet taste of beetroot is perfect for salad and also makes it an excellent ingredient in stews and side-dishes.

Potatoes

South Tyrolean potatoes are cultivated in the Puster valley. Only carefully selected, healthy seed potatoes are used for cultivation. Each potato variety cooks differently:
  • mealy potatoes for dumplings, purée or French fries
  • mainly firm potatoes for fried and roast potatoes, vegetable soups, stews and jacket potatoes
  • firm, waxy potatoes for salads.
To help you distinguish quickly between these types when buying South Tyrolean potatoes, they are labeled in various colors (yellow, red, green) depending on their variety and consistency.


Cabbage

South Tyrolean white cabbage is cultivated in the Eisack and Puster valleys and in Vinschgau at up to 1,000 meters above sea level. This type of cabbage is also used in the popular dish sauerkraut. Sauerkraut came into being because a major source of vitamins was needed in winter. White cabbage has few calories but contains a lot of vitamin C. This method was therefore invented to keep the white cabbage edible for a long time. Sauerkraut was also indispensable on sea voyages. It was the only source of vitamins on long journeys. The tradition method of production is still used in South Tyrol today. The cabbage is sliced into thin strips, pressed and salted. The lactic acid in the cabbage promotes the natural fermentation process. This makes the cabbage keep for longer periods.

>> You will find tips on preparing each type of vegetable under “Tips”

>> In which season can you buy each kind of vegetable? More about this under “Facts and figures”
Tip: how to store fresh asparagus
Ideally you should use fresh asparagus. Wrap it in a damp cloth and store it unpeeled in the vegetable compartment of your fridge.
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