Ancient vegetables: Neapolitan papaccella

Ancient vegetables: Neapolitan papaccella

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Production area and history

Region: Campania
Production area: includes 9 municipalities in the province of Naples.

Neapolitan papaccella (photo

Papaccella is a production limited to the province of Naples: this area is suitable for the cultivation of this pepper, once widespread because it is linked to the peasant traditions of self-consumption, today rediscovered thanks to the use of anti-aphid shadows, after a period of crisis , which had seen its replacement with more productive but less valuable organoleptic hybrids. Currently most of the production is destined for fresh consumption, while the remaining part is preserved under red wine vinegar.
The municipality in the Vesuvian area where the major crops of the Neapolitan papaccella are located is Brusciano. An area whose clayey soil, therefore rich in water, is ideal for sowing vegetables. The peculiarity of this pepper is that it does not peel and is more digestible than the traditional one. There are several hypotheses on the origin of the name. A first one, the most ascertained, would trace the name papaccella from the Latin, from the word "pipiricellam". However, there is also a rumor that would trace the name back to the surname of a family from Campania who cultivated this vegetable the Papaccia.


The flowers, white or greenish-white, are solitary or grouped in 2-3 and arise in the axil of the leaves or branches. The fruit, the real characteristic, is a fleshy berry of various shapes and sizes, flattened at the poles, usually quite thick ribbed; the flesh is thick (even 15 mm) and fleshy, with a sweet taste and an intense aroma. The papaccelle are appreciated for the characteristics of the pulp (mesocarp): crunchy, firm, sweet and fragrant. The "skin" is thin and adherent, a characteristic that makes it pleasant for fresh consumption and for vinegar storage. The true papaccelle are small, reaching a maximum of 8, 10 centimeters in diameter.

Neapolitan papaccella (photo

Cultivation technique

Sowing (in rows about 40 cm apart) can be carried out from the second half of March to the first ten days of July.


The harvest is carried out from the second half of June until the end of November, at physiological maturation (when the color is yellow or red), but there is a habit of consuming them also green. In 2006 a Slow Food presidium was created for the Neapolitan papaccella. Historical ingredient of Neapolitan cuisine, papaccelle are consumed fried in a pan with garlic and oil, but also baked with potatoes, variously stuffed, as an accompaniment to cod or raw, thinly sliced ​​and mixed with other vegetables. And again: in vinegar as an appetizer or on Christmas "nzalata 'and reinforcement" or fried in pork cooking fat (ribs, sausages, traces etc.).

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