The “Salaturi,” Indispensable in Nonna’s Calabria Kitchen
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
“Look here,” says Cinzia T. as she takes a large terracotta container in hand and peers inside. “We can see the salt markings. That is how we know that the container was actually used in a Calabria kitchen many many years ago.”
The container that Cinzia holds in her hands is called “saluturi,” a Calabrian dialect word that refers to food that is “salty” or preserved in salt – a word that has come to include the name of the terracotta container in which olives, vegetables or meats were preserved long before Calabrians had access to modern refrigeration.
Cinzia, who is now a middle-aged woman in her early forties, remembers her youth in Serrastretta, the isolated village high in the Calabrian mountains, where she was born and where she’s lived all her life. “We had no refrigerator,” she says, “So my sister and I helped our mother preserve foods for the winter months. We had many “saluturi” that we filled with peppers, olives and meats, layered between a bed of salt.”
Cinzia is most conversant with the preservation of olives, a staple fruit that her entire family gathered during the autumn months. “We do not pick olives,” Cinzia emphasizes. “Instead we gather them. The farmer places bright green and orange nets under the olive trees and when the olives are ripe they fall from the tree. Olives ripen naturally and when they are ripe, they fall. So there is no disturbing them while they are on the tree and no shaking the trees to make them fall.”
When the olives are ripe farmers gather family members and friends who carefully collect the olives from their netting “beds” and, as Cinzia remembers well, families preserve the olives in “sale marino,” or sea salt for a delicious compliment to a “pranzo” or “cena”, lunch or dinner during the long, cold winter months.
The “saluturi” represents a remnant of “tanto tempo fa,” a “long time ago” when life in southern Italy centered around the Calabrian kitchen, when food was seasonal, local and natural, like the olives so lovingly preserved in Nonna’s “saluturi.”
Salaturi are part of the unusual vintage selections available from Calabria Treasures.
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