The Traditional Local food Products of Modena
Take a trip through genuine food and wine traditions
If you’re here, it’s likely because you’ve heard about the culinary specialties of this part of Italy and you’re curious to know more. Or maybe “food tourism” is your thing and, as a confirmed foodie, you’re wondering what local delicacies you should sample once you get here. Traditions of cooking, food, and wine are a tricky topic because there’s always the risk that you won’t be able to explain in a few lines what food really represents for the residents of this area—or to describe the delicacies that are the envy of much of the world.
For Italians in this part of the country, food is family, friends, and memories of home. It’s conviviality and high spirits. It’s an image of our grandmothers kneading pastry dough and childhood memories of afternoons spent learning to seal tortellini by twisting them around a finger.
And food is economy as well—an important resource and the result of skill, work, and dedication. Food is a vocation and a natural outgrowth of our way of life.
It’s a part of us, and it helps us tell you the story of who we are.
Perhaps it is for just those reasons that the Province of Modena today can boast of being one of the richest in PDO (protected designation of origin) and PGI (protected geographical indication) products—synonymous the world over with a promise of good things to eat.
That distinction, in fact, has been earned through a commitment to genuineness, to tradition, and to preserving the flavors of days gone by.
This part of Italy is rich in astonishing experiences in food and wine, and you can discover them first-hand at any of the many restaurants, taverns, and local farms. For their owners and staff, fine food is a craft, and they’ve learned to make the most of local flavors and products.
We know that visitors only truly understand the authentic essence of local specialties when they touch them with their own hands, when they taste them. Here, then, is an overview to help you identify the most celebrated products of the Modena area.
Modena’s DOP and IGP products.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP
This unique product is the result of special climatic conditions and of masterly methods of cultivation and production. One example is the variety of grape grown here, together with the art of cooking grape must (unfermented juice) and the traditional processes of decanting the liquid from one cask to another. These tasks are carried out by knowledgeable hands that have learned the secrets of vinegar-making from their ancestors, just as their ancestors did before them. The must obtained from the pressing of grapes is cooked until it reaches a specific concentration and then allowed to ferment naturally. The liquid is further concentrated during a very long aging process of not less than twelve years. Only in this way can a product of such superior qualities be created. You'll find it only in one particular kind of bottle, 100 ml, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, in two different labels: affinato (minimum 12 years of ageing), extravecchio (minimum 25 years of ageing). To book a visit to a Balsamic vinegar producer click here.
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP
Produced in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena’s PGI balsamic vinegar is obtained from the must (unfermented juice) of such grape varietals as Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana, and Montuni. Wine vinegar (no less than 10%) and aged vinegar (at least ten years old) are then added. Acidification takes place through a variety of methods, including the addition of colonies of bacteria or the methods of “slow surface” fermentation or “wood chip” fermentation. The future vinegar is then refined in barrels or casks for at least sixty days. After three years, it can be called “aged.” For more about Modena’s PGI (protected geographical indication) balsamic vinegar, visit the site of the consortium that monitors quality and ensures the use of traditional methods of production. To book a visit to a Balsamic vinegar producer click here.
Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP
Known internationally as the King of Cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano is the result of an ancient tradition tied deeply to the land. Obtained from the milk of cows whose diet consists mainly of locally-grown fodder, it is a partial-fat, hard, granular cheese that is cooked and then allowed to age slowly. The techniques of the entirely natural production process have remained unchanged over the centuries as have its ingredients: milk, salt, and rennet. Today, a strict set of rules and regulations defines the parameters of the PDO label. That the place of origin is well defined to include only specific areas is especially important. For more about Modena’s PDO (protected designation of origin) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, visit the site of the consortium that monitors quality and ensures the use of traditional methods of production. Click here to book a tour to a cheese dairy
Prosciutto di Modena DOP
This prosciutto is a great delicacy whose production is subject to a detailed set of rules and regulations. This special form of cured meat is made from the thighs of pigs of the “Large White” breed, born and raised exclusively in Italy. Only after aging for at least fourteen months is prosciutto eligible to receive the PDO designation. For more about Modena’s PDO (protected designation of origin) prosciutto, visit the site of the consortium that monitors quality and ensures the use of traditional methods of production.
Amarene brusche di Modena IGP
Modena’s Amarene Brusche cherry preserves are prepared from the fruit of Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry, in keeping with the traditional recipe. Their sour taste is characteristic, and Amarene Brusche PGI cherry preserves are made using cherries and sugar alone with no other added ingredients. The preserves are ideal for pies and tarts.
Ciliegia di Vignola IGP
Vignola Cherries encompass a number of cultivars, including early- and late-ripening varieties, and are hand-harvested from mid-May to mid-July. Grown in the foothills of the Panaro River basin, whose heart of production is Vignola, these cherries are known in a range of varieties, including those known as “tenerine,” “mora di Vignola,” and “duroni.”
Cotechino Modena PGI
Modena’s PGI (protected geographical indication) cotechino (together with zampone—both are made from a mixture of ground pork flavored with herbs and spices and stuffed into the hollowed-out lower-leg of a hog) is a cured meat product with a history that goes back centuries. They are usually served with boiled meat and vegetables and accompanied by mashed potatoes, lentils, and butter beans. For more about Modena’s PGI (protected geographical indication) cotechino, visit the site of the consortium that monitors quality and ensures the use of traditional methods of production
Zampone Modena IGP
Zampone, like cotechino, is made from a mixture of ground pork meat flavored with herbs and spices and stuffed into the hollowed-out lower-leg of a hog. Its unmistakable appearance is deeply tied to its origins. In order to keep meat from spoiling, it was ground and stuffed into a casing made from the skin of the hind foot of a hog, giving the zampone its characteristic shape. For more about Modena’s PGI (protected geographical indication) zampone, visit the site of the consortium that monitors quality and ensures the use of traditional methods of production.
Pera dell'Emilia-Romagna PGI
The Emilia-Romagna PGI (protected geographical indication) Pear includes varieties known as Abate Fetel, Cascade, Conference, Decana del Comizio, Kaiser, Max Red Bartlett, Passa Crassana, and William. Each of these has a flavor all its own and the flesh of each fruit has a unique consistency.
Known the world over, Lambrusco, the region’s sparkling red wine, boasts a unique flavor profile. Straightforward and genuine, Lambrusco perfectly embodies the character of this part of Italy and serves as one of the bases of the local economy. Depending on the variety of grapes employed in its production, a number of PDO Lambruscos are produced. Lambrusco di Sorbara, also known as Lambrusco della Viola, presents a fresh and delicate flavor and light body to the palate. Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce is fresh, savory, balanced, and moderately tannic in the mouth, an ideal accompaniment for any meal. Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro is elegant, balanced, and more full-bodied than other Lambrusco wines; it is soft and fruity on the palate. Finally, Lambrusco di Modena has elegant, floral or fruity notes.
To learn more about Lambrusco visit the sites of the consortia that monitor quality and ensure the use of traditional methods of production (https://www.tutelalambrusco.it/en and https: //www.lambrusco.net/en). Click here to to book a visit to a wine production.