The ‘pastinocello’ carrot (Daucus carotae maior) grows spontaneously from February to March; it usually sprouts in meadows along riverbanks. It is known to grow at various altitudes from sea level to high altitudes. This variety of carrot can also be cultivated. The stem and leaves of the wild plant are both edible, while the roots of the cultivated plant can be eaten. Its leaves are green and shiny, while its stem is striated and branches out, stretching anywhere from 30 centimeters to 2 meters. It often sprouts white flowers. Its root is only used for food—whether raw or cooked, while its leaves can be used for various purposes. The pastinocello’s leaves are often used to season omelets, create diuretic herbal teas or provide food for livestock. The yellow-brownish color and sweet flavor of this carrot recalls the look and taste of hazelnuts.
This product owes its traditional character and quality to the cultivated variety which is well adapted to the climatic conditions of the area. It has also been influenced by various cultivation techniques which have remained unchanged over time. Nonetheless, the cultivation of pastinocello carrot is currently at risk; though the plant grows spontaneously, its carrots are not often usable. Thus, since the end of World War II, it has seldom been cultivated. In 1997, however, a fan of typical products, found some seed and launched the pastinocello once more.
Article by Comunità Montana dell’Alta Versilia