Italy has a rich and strong tradition in bakery products. Every region and every single village has been contributing to the Italian gastronomic heritage with their traditional bakery recipes.
Food preserves in Italy are the product of a long tradition starting from tomatoes: in the XVIII century people started to process fresh tomatoes to be stored and eaten during the year. The industrial production of tomato products, such as peeled tomatoes, diced tomato, cherry tomatoes, sauces and purée, or passata, spread thanks to the popularity of the ingredient, the most common condiment for Pasta and Pizza.
The preservation of vegetables by salt, vinegar and oil is a practice of ancient origins, dating back to the Roman times. In more recent times, different conservation techniques were conceived in order to preserve tomatoes, arrived in Europe in the XVI century and considered, for a lot of time, toxic. Legends attributed aphrodisiac and exciting powers to them and they were used for alchemists’ potions and magic filters. Tomatoes were gradually considered edible foods, first references about tomatoes squeezed and boiled to make a sauce are dated back to the XVIII century. In 1705, the first recipe with tomatoes was written: Francesco Gaudenzi suggested to peel the tomatoes and then fry them. In the XIX century, in the South of Italy, the habit of desiccating tomatoes and storing their juice was widely spread: that practice lead to the creation of the first industrial conservation system of vegetal products, for making tomatoes and other vegetables available and saleable during the whole year.
Vegetal preserves are an important area of Italian food production. Canned products include different vegetable specialties, that are cultivated in various Italian regions and picked only when perfectly mature. Their conservation let the products maintain their properties and taste(consistency, flavor, smell, color). Preservation techniques of various vegetal food specialties include conservation by salt, vinegar or oil: practices of ancient origins, that now join advanced technologies. Vegetable preserves are the result of accurate controls, guaranteeing safety and quality.
In particular, rigorous standards are applied in the production of canned tomatoes: they can be processed in many ways, peeled, concentrated, pulpy, sauce and juice. Born from an ancient tradition and characterized by a geographical identity that guarantees the best quality on the market, tomato products are unique Italian excellences. For peeled tomatoes, the work begins with washing in tanks, to eliminate all the foreign matter from the berries. The product is then heated to a temperature of about 90°C/194°F to remove, mechanically, the peel from the pulp. Then tomatoes, after other controls, are put in tin cans with the berries and the juice and the vacuum closure, then proceed to the pasteurization phase, which permits microbiological stabilization with the aim of inactivating any alteration of the product due to microorganisms. For the processing of the tomato “concentrate”, recalling the ancient tradition of preservation, it is done by removing some of the water from the juice obtained by triturating and sifting the fresh tomato fruits. The concentrate, which differs according to how much the concentration of juice increases in percentage, requires rich color tomatoes, with the consistency and strength of the crack skin and with the highest sugar content possible. Concentration takes place by low pressure evaporation of water, in order to preserve the organoleptic and nutritional properties of the product. As for the juice and the sauce, however, tomatoes are subjected to a concentration process and their value of soluble and insoluble solids must be high, to ensure good consistency and viscosity.
Tomato pulp and shredded tomato are obtained by cutting and pressing round peeled tomato fruits, with low seed content and great consistency. Cherry tomatoes and datterini (small oval-shaped sweet tomatoes) are conserved after accurate selection processes and quality controls. Selected fruits are conserved through specific microbiological stabilization treatments, meant to preserve their unique characteristics.
Vegetable preserves are appreciated for being healthy and tasteful. In particular, tomato is an authentic concentrate of beneficial substances with many proprieties: it’s diuretic, anti-cancer and detox thanks to the zinc. The nutritional value of processed tomatoes and tomato sauces are even higher: the lycopene, a powerful antioxidant in the tomato, is released and more digestible to the organism if the tomatoes are processed. Tomatoes are protagonists of the Mediterranean diet, and they are essential ingredients of Italian cuisine: Pasta with tomato is the most popular way to eat every kind of Pasta, Pizza won’t be the same without it and Caprese is a typical Italian dish that involves mozzarella and sliced tomatoes.