Lentils


Originally from Mesopotamia, at the dawn of agricultural civilisation, lentils are one of the most edible ancient plants; its cultivation is practiced in disadvantaged areas with mild climates, half arid, because the resistence of the plant to drought and the biological cycle autumn-spring contribute to obtaining satisfying harvests, even if of modest quantities.
In Umbria the pulse vegetable is localised in narrow areas of plateau (Castelluccio, but also Annifo and Colfiorito), in which the climatic conditions and pedology give the product a great qualitative value. The quality most valued is that cultivated at Castelluccio, from very small green seeds (giving a very tender result and also being particularly tasty, and which it is not necessary for them to be softened in water before cooking).
Cultivated at an altitude of 1,400mts., the lentils of Castelluccio are not treated in any way with chemical products and do not present any parasiticidal residue; the ploughing and the seeding are done in the spring, straight after the melting of the snow: from that moment the lentils need only the favourable atmospheric conditions. At the end of July or during the first half of August there is the carpitura or the cuttings, when the pods are not too dry (in which case there is a risk of losing all the seeds).
After the harvest, the plants are left on the field in parallel lines for some days, until the complete desiccation of the lentils. When the seeds are sufficiently dry there follows a rough mechanical selection to elminate eventual stony particles and other seeds present; the cleaning of the pulses is still done by hand, grain by grain, in the weeks and months following the harvest. The agronomical rotation effected are triennial, and foresee the cadence, lentils-rest-cereals-lentils. The annual average production, of the plateau of Castelluccio, is of hundreds of quintals.
The perogative of this lentil, certainly the most famous and valued in all of Italy with many local recipes, is that it does not loose the covering and keeps retains its form during the cooking process.