Ancient variety of corn with pointed brown / black grains


Ancient variety of corn with pointed brown / black grains

Black thorny corn is an ancient variety of sweetcorn that was collected, catalogued and preserved at the end of the 1950s by the scholars of the CREA of Bergamo, with the label of "Blue corn from the plain of Esine and Piancogno".
Black thorny corn is a strongly coloured and pointy corn that has kept its unique characteristics because it is grown in isolated areas, far from other varieties of corn, thus preventing hybridisation.

Some testimonies report that black thorny corn, formerly called “melga negra spinusa”, was grown between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Annunciata area, part of the village of Piancogno (BS) next to Esine,

Black thorny corn is a medium-early cycle plant, it is moderately vigorous but reaches almost two and a half metres in height. Its leaves are of a beautiful reddish-brown colour.
This variety is well adapted to the alpine environment, it can grow up to 1,000 metres above sea level, but its yield is limited compared to other varieties, especially compared to the plains.
One ear grows on each plant, just over a metre from the ground. Ears are 16-18 centimetres long and with 14-16 rows of grain.
The grain is glassy, ​​with a pointed apex and is a uniform brownish colour that seems black.
Sweetcorn flour is traditionally used for polenta, but recently it is also used for other preparations, such as pasta and bakery products.

The sowing begins in the middle of April, while the harvest is between September and October. Harvesting is done by hand, in order to allow farmers to select the best cobs and discard the damaged ones.

The cultivation of black corn has continued to this day thanks to some farmers, who are the caretakers of the Annunciata area, in Piancogno.
In 2015, black thorny corn was included in the "ancient varieties to be preserved on the National register of agricultural and horticultural species".
The elective cultivation area includes the villages of the middle Valle Camonica, around Esine and Piancogno. Black thorny corn is included in the online catalogue of the Slow Food Ark of Taste.

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Cuisine and territory have always been linked, not so much because of the belief that what is born behind the house is better than the rest, but simply because local products were immediately available to those who had to cook.
Traditional cuisine, which is seasonal, derives from what has happened over time in a place and from the products of that place.