Capers and cucunci
The caper plant generally grows wild on the lava of the smaller islands of Sicily. But in Salina these delicate vegetables are grown. The capers are not the fruit of the plant but the buds of its flowers not yet opened. Hand-picked, preserved in salt before being used they are immersed in water for a little time to lose their excess salt and to recover aroma and taste. In Salina two qualities of capers are cultivated, nocellara and nocella, that do not soften too after salting that must be done strictly with sea salt. Excellent also the fruit of the caper plant, the so-called cucunci, which have the form of small cucumbers and are very good pickled. In the Aeolian Islands they are often served as an appetizer.
From the family of cherry tomatoes, typical of many regions of southern Italy, the Aeolian tomatoes have a characteristic shape, which differentiates them from the brothers of the mother island: they are just stretched, which has earned them the name of cherry tomatoes. Due to the microclimate of the islands, temperate and warm, with a temperature range between the lowest in Italy, windy and wet enough, the tomatoes take on a particularly sweet taste. Collected in summer, they are stored to be used even in winter, hanging in large wheeled wicker.
Typical cheese of many Sicily areas the sheep cheese is processed differently according to the specific area of origin. The canestrato, derived from sheep’s milk, takes its name from the basket in which mature, giving to the crust a typical rough shape. There are several varieties: fresh it is called tuma, hardened and salted primusali, while the one producted in Aeolian Islands is said cooked because of the particular preparation process. When the fresh forms are ready, they are cooked in boiling whey, for one, two or three hours depending on weight, and then salting.