The Sauris vegetable garden: the marvel of nature in your plate all year round!
Climate and elevation have always influenced the diet of the Sauris residents. Moreover, due to the distance from big cities, the occasions for them to buy the food they needed were really few. That’s how the Sauris vegetable garden was born, a small piece of land that each family used to cultivate, according to their possibilities.
How is a Sauris vegetable garden built?
A Sauris garden still has the typical “cemeterial” form; it is fenced and divided into rectangular mounds, in which manure is buried. This “trick” not only allows soil fertilization but also ensures bountiful harvest even when the temperatures are really harsh. In fact, the buried manure ferments, giving off heat and promoting seed germination, even in the cooler periods of the year, such as spring and autumn.
The vegetables cultivated in summer and winter
Each rectangular section of the garden accommodates a different type of vegetables, such as beet (piesl), cress (khreis), arugola (rukula), radish (radikh), peas (orbaslan), radish, beetroot, onion and garlic. A section is also dedicated to the herbs: chives, mint, chamomile and sage are often found in a Sauris garden. To find out more on officinal herbs, click here.
However, these vegetables are ready for consumption only in spring and summer. During the colder seasons, other winter vegetables, such as turnip, potatoes, cabbage and dried legumes, are traditionally cultivated and then preserved.
The garden vegetables on the table: traditional recipes from the local families
Ever since the 1800s, potatoes and kràut (fermented cabbage) have been the basic ingredients of the local cuisine during the freezing winter. Dumplings and cakes (friko and geréstata gartùfelas) can be made with potatoes, which can be had with cheese and morning mùes. This is why – ever since they were introduced in Sauris – potatoes have never been missing in the gardens and on the table. Cabbage instead has been used in Sauris ever since the town’s early origins. Cabbage is served as a salad; in the past, when there were no refrigerators, it was available only as long as it could be eaten fresh. On the contrary, kraùt would last throughout the winter, since it is fermented. Kraùt has always been the perfect ingredient for soups, mixed with legumes and potatoes. Sautéing it in a pan with lard is another way to fix cabbage. Until the 60s, it was the main dinner course and, on special occasions, it was also used as a side dish for sausages, Italian-style pork sausages and pork ribs.
In spring, when the snow begins to melt, and the garden produce is yet to sprout, the village people make extensive use of herbs: dandelion is used raw in salads, and cooked in a pan, as a side dish for eggs. In the past, nettle was used in soups, omelets and – as is still the case today – mixed in dumplings. In addition to these, Good King Henry, kraut herb and wild radicchio are also eaten in various ways throughout the spring, awaiting the arrival of tastier garden produce.