Piennolo Tomatoes

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If you've never tried piennolo, you are missing out on truly exceptional treat. The casa Barone Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio DOP is shockingly fresh-tasting, with a bold flavor that is both richly sweet and pleasantly tart. Small and meaty, piennolo tomatoes are sliced in half and jarred with their thin skins still on. Unlike other Italian tomatoes, these delicate little piennolo tomatoes do not stand up to long cooking; they’re so sweet they require very little to make an outstanding sauce. Add a bit of olive oil and garlic, heat them gently in a pan for a few minutes and toss with spaghetti for a deliciously simple dinner. Or use them to top your next homemade pizza; piennolo are one of only a handful of varieties authorized for the real Neapolitan pizza by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Piennolo tomatoes have such an outstanding, balanced flavor they can also be eaten raw; we love them crushed up in pesto trapanese with almonds and basil, or with a little salt as a topping for bruschetta.

casa Barone Piennolo Tomatoes come from an ancient variety that at one time risked extinction, and have been salvaged thanks to the efforts of a consortium of local producers. They grow organically in the Mount Vesuvius National Park in Campania, where the strong sun, low rainfall and mineral-rich lava soil give the tomatoes a high concentration of sugars and acids, which allows them to preserve their remarkably fresh flavor over time. And because they are cultivated without irrigation, Piennolo tomatoes are unusually sustainable.

At casa Barone, farmers hand-pick each tomato, and intertwine the vines together in upside-down bunches. “Piennolo” means “hanging” in the Neapolitan dialect, thanks to the local tradition of storing these tomatoes hanging from the ceilings of home attics in the winter. As the tomatoes dry upside down, their skins thin and their pulp softens and almost caramelizes, enhancing their natural sweetness.

The original farmhouse that gave the casa Barone its name was constructed soon after the eruption of Vesuvius in 1872; today, casa Barone is committed to protecting the rich biodiversity of their region, focusing on local varieties, traditional production methods, and organic farming. casa Barone captures the incredible freshness and flavor of the Mediterranean produce that grows on their land, with a line of fruit preserves that include tomatoes, apricots, oranges and pears.