The European Union has approved a protected geographical indication (PGI) for Italian cured meat product, pitina.
Pitina is made from a lean meat paste from either sheep, goat, roe deer, fallow deer, red deer or chamois (only one may be used), and a mainly fat part of pork belly or shoulder.
To be sold on the market, patina must have a moisture content of less than 55 % salt, less than 3,5 % no more than 28 % protein. It must also have maximum 100 mg of nitrates per kilo product and maximum 25 mg nitrites per kilo.
The meat is seasoned with a mixture of sea-salt or rock salt and pepper, garlic, wine and aromatic herbs. Only use juniper, caraway or wild fennel, fennel seeds and musk milfoil are authorised.
The variety of meat sources that can be used to make pitina is linked to its historical production area, in the mountainous region of northern Italy.
“This region was historically blighted by poverty, emigration and a subsistence economy in which meat was a precious commodity and pig-farming was extremely rare,” reads the official EU description of the product, Animal proteins were provided by sheep and goats slaughtered when they reached the required age, or perhaps injured or killed in ravines or, occasionally, by ungulate game hunted, in most cases, by poachers.
“The need to preserve what little meat was available for as long as possible, particularly during the winter, led to the development of preservation techniques which, for that matter, are common to the entire Alpine region and to northern Europe, such as smoking meat and stabilising it with pork fat.”
According to the Slow Food Foundation, the addition of pork fat “softens the intense, gamey flavor of the venison, goat or mutton”.
Mechanically separated meat is not authorised.
Between 1997 and 2000 ‘Pitina’ was included in the Arcigola Slow Food’s first list of endangered products, which set up a ‘committee’ to safeguard the tradition and the recipe.
Pitina may only be produced in the Italian Pordenone province and in the municipalities of Andreis, Barcis, Cavasso Nuovo, Cimolais, Claut, Erto Casso, Frisanco, Maniago, Meduno, Montereale Valcellina, Tramonti di Sopra and Tramonti di Sotto.
All packaging must bear the product logo and the EU symbol.