That represents just the 1% of the world production, but, for our
town, represents the most significant economic element both for the
surface interested in such cultivation and for the relevant value of the
Also because of the steep and impervious areas in which this plant is cultivated, and of the danger of dispersion of the crop, the picking is done totally by hand, directly from the tree, and, in some cases, by laying canvas under the trees with considerable use of costly manpower.
A game of patient hands smeared by plenty of resin from the branches, a feast and a toil eagerly awaited, to which all the family participates, included women and children.
After the picking the fruit, by mechanical rubbing, is"sgrollato" (separated fromits leathery cover) and dried for 3-4 days in the sun, in large open spaces prepared in front of the farm-houses.
This way is obtained the pistachio in its shell, locally called Tignosella, kept by the producers, before selling it, in dark and dry rooms. After two years of work and of spending a lot of money the producer's toil is finished.
But because of a too low price or of a scarce crop, often it is not possible to recover the relevant cost of financial and physic energies. The last year (2000), for instance, for the adverse climatic conditions, 60% of the crop was lost.
The shelling of the pistachio seed is done mechanically by the cooperatives or the local merchants to whom the product is sold or conferred.
Up to some past decades the shelling was still done manually in the producers houses: with infinite patience and a rudimentary technique consisting in a block of lava rock, emptied inside, ("u sciffu"), onthe edges of which the pistachios, one by one, were hit and broken with hammers or stones.
Today the biennale work of the producers stops with the "tignosella" (the unshelled pistachio): for the shelling and peeling the fruit is brought to centers of collections or sold directly to exporters. Such processing is required by importing countries and confectionery and canning industries. In fact, just because of its bright green color (a true trademark), the brontese pistachio is commercialized nearly exclusively as "peeled".
The peeling, removal of the thin purple-reddish pellicle is done by a highly technologic process which exposes the fruit to a brief jet of high pressure steam that causes the separation of the skin.
A following passage to the peeling machine that, by rubbing of the rollers at differentiated speed, removes the pellicle.
The green pistachios then go through a complex drying process at low speed and from this to an electronic selecting machine that rejects eventual pistachio of not the right color.
The product now dry (with a humidity of 4-5%) is wrapped up in cartons of 12,5 Kg.. The processing cycle is now concluded. In ambient fresh and dry the product preserves its color for several months, and then starts fading.
That is why the Cooperatives and the exporters peel their pistachios only to order and don't keep stock of "peeled pistachio" as this, before being peeled, can be kept in cold store for over a year without loosing any of its peculiarities.
Two years of hard work and long wait have gone by, but the result is the precious pistachio of Bronte, emerald green in color and rich of unmistakable, perceptible qualities.
The intense green color of the cotyledons, the elongated shape, the aromatic taste and the high content of unsaturated fat acids of the fruit, are not easily found in the product of other areas.
That determines a net preference towards product of American or Asian origin that presents, for the great part, roundish and yellow seeds, or not completely green and often yellowish, due to diverse climatic conditions, even if its price is always lower respect to the brontese product.