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Category: Vegetables

Senise Pepper

Basilicata, Italy

Senise pepper is cultivated in the homonymous muncipality (in the province of Potenza) aand on the mountainsides along the valleys of Sinni and its tributary Serrapotamo. Its shape can be pointy, trunk-like or hooked, it is 10 to 15 cm long and its skin is either green or pink. Sown between February and March and transplanted in May, it is harvested in summer (in the first half of August). Even though it has some similarities with Campanian Corno di Toro (bull's horn), it can be distinguished for its thin pulp (1.5 - 2 mm) and its low liquid content, making it easy to be dried.
Drying happens naturally, first laying the peppers to dry on cloths or nets in ventilated, dim rooms, then they are threaded and left and dry in the sun, in necklaces called "serte". In order to turn peppers into powder, they need do be further dried in an oven before grinding them.
Senise pepper can be tasted fresh, dried and fried in plenty of olive oil (making the so-called "cruschi") or ground, used ot flavour various dishes, cheese and cured meats. Its powder is very thin, reminding of saffron, this is why in the local dialect this pepper is named "zafarano".

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