Between the mountains and plateaus of Sila, woods rich in fir and pine trees, lakes and pastures, dense vegetation follow one another. The temperate climate of the summer and autumn seasons, the presence of lakes and immense pine, beech, and chestnut woods foster the growth of mushrooms. Many processing companies work and market all over the world the Calabrian boletus mushrooms, in both dry and in-oil version, as well as other varieties such as the autochthonous ‘Rositi’, named this way because of their distinctive pink-orange colour (the Italian adjective ‘rosa’ means ‘pink’).
Among these companies, there is the ‘Salpa of Capellupo C. & C.', in the municipality of Petronà, on the slopes of ‘Sila Piccola’, in the province of Catanzaro. Its corporate mission at the beginning consisted in working, processing, and wholesale marketing both fresh and dried mushrooms and chestnuts. Later, in the late 80s of last century, the company undertook a diversified activity, by proposing a line of frozen and dried mushrooms in small and medium sachets.
Carmine Capellupo, founder and CEO of the company, explains: «The flagship products of our company are fresh and dried chestnuts, as well as boletus mushrooms in oil, both frozen and dried, mixed mushrooms, and other mushrooms in oil typical of our land such as the ‘Rositi’». The ‘Rositi’ grow exclusively in conifer woods; they can be either eaten and tasted fresh, or preserved in oil; alongside with boletus mushrooms, they are at the top of culinary and gastronomic traditions of Sila: they can be either barbecued, with garlic and bacon, or tasted on pasta with tomato, chilli, and smoked ricotta.
Mushroom gathering has become a real activity: «Whole families, professionals, who in the local dialect are called ‘Fungiari’ (the Italian name ‘Fungo’ means ‘mushroom’), or occasional searchers head into the woods in search of this so precious fruit which earth gives us and we have processed in recent times, extending our activity and expanding it in foreign market, so that we are able to deliver our products in Switzerland, England, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, and USA».
The king of mushrooms
The king of mushrooms is deservedly the boletus mushroom, the most researched and best-known in the world, whose utmost aroma is felt after drying. It is present on the plateau of Sila in its three species: the Boletus edulis, which grows in the moors and oak, chestnut, beech, and conifers woods, during the warm months of summer up to late autumn; the Boletus aereus, which is mainly found in the chestnut and oak woods and shows a brown hat and a white scented flesh; the Boletus pinophilus, certainly the best of the three species of boletus mushroom, which grows in pine and beech woods and differs from the previous one for the garnet red colour of its hat.
Salpa produces a diversified quality and quantity of mushrooms, in oil, dried, frozen, which, according to the requests coming from individual consumers, can be processed in different ways. Boletus mushrooms are preserved in olive oil, frozen or dried, in various formats: whole, sliced, diced, or lamellated; packaged in sachets, trays, or in glass jars. All the packaging are as transparent as possible, in order to give evidence of the content and appeal offered by these mushrooms.
Capellupo states: «We achieved an important level of production, thanks to raw material characterized by an excellent quality, our ten-year experience, and the technology we use, which allow providing a product characterized by secure and recognized excellence, used in both national and foreign ‘kitchens’».
Salpa produces many courses prepared with mushrooms (‘Misto ortolano con funghi’, ‘Porcini lamellati’, ‘Porcini Cubetti’), proposed in the best restaurants, where they are used for sauces and fillings, in order to accompany white or red meats, for a tasty ‘risotto’ with boletus mushrooms or a pasta with creamy ‘Parmigiano’ and sautéed, a sort of ‘pesto’ with boletus mushrooms. For instance, for these courses it is possible to use
In addition to the king of mushrooms, the company produces preserves prepared with ‘Rositi’, mixed wood mushrooms, preserved in olive or sunflower seed oils.
All the products proposed by Salpa, which are as typical as genuine, and guaranteed by ISO 22000:2005, are processed according to the ancient and typical traditional recipes of Calabria.
Alongside with mushrooms, the main product by Salpa are chestnuts. This is an entirely regional market, which boasts a total of 25,000 tons of chestnuts processed per year, purchased by all the small producers in this area. From these chestnuts, a high quality product is obtained, wisely calibrated, dried, selected, chosen and sold from this company to industry or fruit and vegetable markets. The production of chestnuts is so flourishing that it requires, in the months from October to December, at least 50 employees, and which makes use of advanced machinery that allow minimizing the chipping of the fruit.