Viewpoint: Cirò Marina, Calabria

In Cirò Marina, Calabria, great swathes of countryside play host to rows of bright tomatoes, which are laid out in their hundreds beneath the hot southern Italian sun – all ready to undergo the sun-drying process

The sun-drying process

Calabrian cuisine is well known across Italy for its distinctly flavourful, spicy character, which is much influenced by the region’s hot, dry climate and its resultant produce. Many types of fruit and vegetables thrive in this sunny environment – from this area’s famous fire-engine red peperoncini chillis to prolifically-used aubergines and various succulent citrus fruits.

Calabria is also home to bumper crops of tomatoes, which represent an important staple in the region’s kitchens. As well as being a popular ingredient in their juicy, fresh form, Calabrian tomatoes are often sun-dried to use for antipasti and in other regional recipes.

The baking hot sun of Italy’s south really comes into its own in the drying process. Traditionally, the tomatoes will be sliced and laid out in the sun to dry, forming striking rows of scarlet. The dried tomatoes will then be washed in vinegar, dried again and then preserved under oil – often with some spices added to enhance the flavour. Delicious.