Cipolla paglina di Castrofilippo
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The water-rich soil around Castrofilippo, in the province of Agrigento, is particularly suited to the cultivation of onions. According to official documents from the agricultural reform launched by Ferdinando III of Bourbon, thanks to the ever-present water from the Bigini River, all of the land downstream between one mill and the next was good for “planting onions and garlic”. The inhabitants of Castrofilippo have long been known as cipuddara (which stands fro “onion men”) in the nearby villages, where still today, as in the past, the growers go to sell their onions during the summer.
The name of this ecotype comes from its pale yellow outer layer, the color of straw (paglia), which distinguishes Castrofilippo Paglina onions from other types. Its other important characteristics are the large size of the bulbs, their pleasant aroma and their sweet flavor. The lack of piquancy makes them ideal for eating raw, but the local cuisine also uses them in various traditional preparations: cipuddata, ‘mpanata di cipudda and cipuddetti frittata.
Generally, the onions are planted out as seedlings (cipuddine), grown in seedbeds in areas near the sea, where the milder climate helps the seedlings grow early in the season. When they reach a height of 10 to 15 centimeters, they are pulled up from the seedbed, collected in bunches and planted out by hand.
Harvest starts in June, when the onion’s leaves are still green, and continues until the end of August, the month when the traditional festival dedicated to the onion is held.
The Castrofilippo Paglina onion is available from June to September, while the spring onions (cipuddretti) are generally found in March. Processed products are available year round.