The Bio Calabrian Corn: Jermanu

15.11.2022

Wheat field with cypresses” is a painting made in 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh, which represents the view of the countryside of Saint-Rémy, surrounded by shrubs and cypresses.

Such cornfield with cypresses by Van Gogh is a wonderful picture, which describes a typical Mediterranean environment…And an essential component of the French and broadly European and Mediterranean diet, the wheat with which bread is made.

This helps us to introduce a typical wheat of Calabria: Iermanu type.

CALABRIAN CORN

In Aspromonte (a mountainous zone of Calabria, in the very south of the region), “u granu jermanu“, or jermano, is the dialect name for rye, and it has been cultivated since ancient times.

With the use of this ancient Calabrian wheat, – with many beneficial properties, rich in vitamins, mineral salts and fibers, – Calabrian people produce a black bread, with a very rustic flavor, a little acid and with an intense aroma.

Ancient and Bio

Iermano wheat was widely used throughout the South up to the 1950s, with this name (Iermano or Jurmano) that which in Italian is called rye is identified.

Introduced by the Germans during the First World War to create alcohol and bread, Jurmano wheat was well received in Calabria. From Aspromonte to Sila plateau there are still some farmers who have been carrying on the cultivar for over 50 years without stopping!

Being Calabria a rather mountainous land and therefore subject to very rigid winters, this German cultivar has been able to adapt well to our winter climates.

ITS SUCCESS: A VERY TASTY BLACK BREAD

Firstly, its rusticity. It is a cereal that even grows in the polar circle and reaches up to 4,000 meters of altitude.

Healthy benefits from Jermanu bread

Its peculiarity is mainly due to the health benefits: according to various scientific researches, rye thins the blood and prevents arteriosclerosis.

Rye flour, called in dialect iermano flour or iurmano flour, often mixed with durum wheat flour, is the main ingredient of an ancient product, the above mentioned black bread.

This black bread, whose production is very laborious, was produced with the luvato (mother yeast), which is prepared from the evening and then thrown in water and flour and covered with wool blankets.

Vitaminic

The next day, the preparation begins with strength and effort, the dough of this bread is dense and viscous, but it is after baking that it keeps better and for a long time. At this point it is cut and cooked for a very long time, about two hours.

The Iurmano bread has some characteristics that distinguish it in a decisive way: the very dark color and the remarkable shelf life. It is a rustic bread, widely used by farmers, and therefore long-lasting.

A BIOLOGICAL PRODUCT

Organic Jurmano flour is 100% biological. It is produced with ancient Calabrian Jurmano or Jermano (Rye) wheat, grown organically by local companies, and it is characterized by a low protein content that makes it suitable even for people with food intolerances (who have digestive disorders in the presence of high percentages of gluten).

Furthermore, the stone grinding, avoiding the overheating of the grain, preserves the wheat germ without altering its properties, and the flour preserves all the nutritional substances it is equipped with, among which the vitamins of group E, B and mineral salts such as phosphorus, potassium stand out, and magnesium.

suitable for food intolerances

The wheat of the Calabrian mountain areas, after the long decline that began after the war, is now finally subject to widespread re-evaluation thanks to its excellent nutritional properties.

In addition to bread making, Jurmano flour can be used for the production of pasta: maccarruni, for example.

“Struncatura”, illegal Calabrian pasta, now become high cuisine

28.11.2019

We are in the plain of Gioia Tauro where the “Struncatura” has risen after being for a long time an illegal recovery pasta.

Calabrian Struncatura arrived in Gioia Tauro in 1919, brought from Atrani, a village on the Amalfi Coast. An inexperienced eye can confuse it with a simple whole wheat pasta, but a Calabrian from the province of Reggio recognizes it at first glance. Dark, porous and rough linguine: this is how the Struncatura (Italianized, “Stroncatura“) presents itself, a symbol of the gastronomic identity of a part of Calabria.

Atrani (Amalfi coast)

The Calabrians are great eaters of pasta, but unlike the “fileja” (a kind of strozzapreti made with flour, water) diffused almost everywhere, the Struncatura is available only in the province of Reggio Calabria and the production area is restricted to such area.

Handmade pasta

Many years ago there was no law governing whole wheat pasta, it had no label and was not legal. It could be sold only smuggled, just under the table to the people known.

THE TERRITORY OF STRUNCATURA

The place of Struncatura  is the plain of Gioia Tauro, the second largest plain in the region, enclosed between the Tyrrhenian Sea, Monte Poro and Aspromonte. A fertile agricultural center, rich in citrus groves and ancient olive trees, whose fame unfortunately is also connected to sad episodes of ‘ndragheta and caporalato.

The two main cities, Gioia Tauro and Palmi, compete for the paternity of the Struncatura, but if you want to eat the real one, you have to go to Gioia Tauro.

In Gioia Tauro one hundred years ago the Struncatura was brought to the this city, making it the culinary center of the whole Plain.

Gioia Tauro (Sunset)

Struncatura arrived in Gioia Tauro in 1919, as said above, brought directly from Atrani, a village on the Amalfi Coast. Some merchants  came to Gioia because, at the time, the town was an important merchant artery. Nobody knew Struncatura here, it was a pasta that was made only in Campania, using the various durum wheat semolina that advanced in the sacks of pasta factories.

THE PRESENT OF THIS PASTA

Today the Struncatura is in great demand, even as an ingredient in starred restaurants, especially in Calabria, but its appeal has not always been recognized. Rather. There was a time when this pasta was synonymous with pet food or poor cooking.

Nowadays, the ingredients are always the same: Italian durum wheat, semolina (from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Lazio) and water. Semolina, not flour. It is not the same thing and the flour is not among the components of this pasta.

Durum wheat and Semolina

To make the Struncatura it shall be used, in particular, the parts of the durum wheat that are less sugary and richer in fiber, the bran and the endosperm. This affects the color of the dough, made porous and rough by the slow drying.

In the past, given that this pasta was synonymous with pet food and poor cooking, in order to cover its acidity, it was often seasoned with sardines and anchovies which, with their strong flavor, were intended to suppress its taste without compromise.

Still today, the dough retains cooking in an exceptional manner, and the porosity retains a savory, but not intrusive, seasoning, in which it can be added anchovy and the chili pepper, plus some olives.

Struncatura + anchovy, chili pepper and some olives

Its re-discovery, however, led to an unbridled race to production with unsuccessful attempts to replicate it, which resulted in the frequent opening of pasta factories, not always up to par, not very respectful of the raw material. So it often happens that you come across culinary oxymorons of fresh Struncature or, even, vacuum packed, in front of which the only question you can ask yourself is “why?“.

In these cases the only thing to do is to rely on common sense, which prevents us from calling Struncatura a fresh pasta!