By Michelle Fabio
If you’re looking for some of the sweetest, firmest, shiniest tomatoes with a long shelf life to boot, you need the small, red, juicy variety from Pachino, Sicily.
Pachino tomatoes are rightfully famous, especially in Italy and Europe, and so treasured that a few years ago in their home country they were granted IGP status–a designation similar to the D.O.C. designation for wines, in this case certifying that at least part of the production of a product is in a particular area.
For the pomodori di Pachino, this area is in the province of Siracusa on the island of Sicily known for its year-round mild weather, few frosts in the winter and spring, long glorious days of sunshine, rich soil, and just the right amount of salinity in its irrigation water–or, in other words, perfect tomato growing conditions.
The Pachino was first cultivated in 1925 but didn’t become popular until the 1970s; since then, it has been the tomato of choice for cold pasta dishes and salads, and is even used on pizza. In fact, if you do an Internet search for recipes using fresh tomatoes, particularly in Italian, you’ll find many that specifically call for the Pachino.
And from personal experience I can tell you–the reports are not exaggerated.