“Food is like music. All the notes are there – it’s simply a question of how you put them together”. So says Lorenzo, our President, and we believe that the quality of the notes is just as important as what you do with them.”
Back home in ‘Astigiano’ – the fertile region around Asti in North West Italy – we’re spoilt by the bountiful supply of vegetables growing on our doorstep. After all, it’s the reason our founding grandparents started Sacla’ back in 1939. They took the surplus of fresh produce from the local countryside in Spring and Summer, and preserved it so everyone could enjoy it throughout the year.
These days, we’re still in the business of preparing and preserving these wonderful Italian herbs and vegetables. But we now turn them into all manner of Italian favourites including vibrant Pesto, Sauces, Pastes, Recipe Bases and Antipasti, to bring even more of the flavour and spirit of Italy to kitchens and tables around the world.
Farming and the land
We’ve a real respect for tradition, honouring the wisdom of age-old techniques in growing and preserving vegetables, following the rhythm of the seasons wherever we possibly can. We never use artificial flavours or preservatives in our products and we’re committed to nurturing our long-standing relationships with the local community and, especially, with the farmers we partner.
One of our key relationships is with our basil farmers – like the Amateis family who having been growing much of the basil used in our Pesto & Pasta Sauces for a long time now. For generations, they have been working their farm in Piedmont, growing not just fragrant basil, but an abundance of rocket, parsley and coriander, all used to create our wonderful range of Pesto sauces.
Equally, we strongly believe that being green is good for business, to ensure that future generations will continue to share in the delights of great Italian produce.
In the words of our Production Director, Rodolfo Garatti; “We are continually making improvements. Our Pesto today is better than it’s ever been. We always want to stay a step ahead. There’s a phrase in Latin, “gutta cavat lapidem” (a drop of water hollows a stone). It’s a slow process, but pioneers need to be patient.”
Fields of Basil Leaves to a jar of Pesto
One of our most loved products is Pesto – and the hero ingredient is plenty of fresh, fragrant basil.
Basil probably came from India, where it has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years, and was known by the ancient Greeks.
Every April, our farmers sow basil seeds throughout fields near the Ligurian coast in Italy. This region is famous for growing basil, as the moist sea breeze and ample sunshine nourish the leaves and give them a unique and intense flavour.
It takes a couple of months for the basil plants to reach their full glory. Then, between June and September, we pick them early in the morning when the air is fresh and not too hot, to preserve the tender leaves and their intense flavour and vibrant colour.
It’s important, for the best taste and texture, that they are picked while they’re in season, ready to be transformed into Pesto within 24 hours.
Documentary evidences suggests that Pesto is a relatively recent concoction, dating from the first half of the 19th Century. The Romans ate a spread called moretum, made from garlic, cheese and herbs, sometimes with nuts and vinegar; and, in 1618, an apothecary in Asti, Guglielmino Prato, published a cookery book than contained a recipe for macaroni with shredded basil, parmesan and garlic.
To create what we know now as traditional Pesto, the ingredients were crushed in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle – from which the word “Pesto” is derived, as “Pestare” means pounded. This pounding releases all the fragrance of the basil, which is why to this day we follow this typical preparation – just on a slightly larger scale!