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The fruit tinkerer

The Martelltal valley is famous for its strawberries. Peter Seibstock and his team process them by hand.

Somewhat hidden behind the ‘South Tyrolean Strawberry World’ shop is Peter Seibstock's very own laboratory: the Seibstock manufactory in Martell/Martello. Small jars full of power are created here.

Beautiful berries!

It's very quiet up here – all you hear is the stream and the occasional clink of cutlery from the village bar next door. Around the manufactory lie the fields where the farmers in Martell grow Peter Seibstock's ingredients: strawberries, raspberries, currants, apricots... Only the oranges for his orange marmalade and the tomatoes for his tomato sauce come from a farmer friend in Sicily, says the almost 70-year-old Peter Seibstock. The farming region here in South Tyrol is at an altitude of 800 to 1,500 metres above sea level.  “This thermal diversity has given our fruit its special taste,” he explains, “that is to say, our fruit is a bit more tart.”

Where the apple falls

The manufactory came into being quite by chance: it started with the delicatessen shop owned by his great-grandfather in Meran/Merano, and later in Bolzano/Bozen. But then they were no longer allowed to produce in the old town. Therefore, Peter Seibstock had to look for another business location – and 15 years ago, he came across a gap in the market in Martell. The farmers were unable to preserve their berries on the same day, so Peter Seibstock and his team of four took over, directly on site.

Everything by hand

Summer is harvest time, and that means work, because then the fruit has to be prepared for storage: the skin is cleaned, spots with stains are cut off, and the stone fruit is pitted. “Everything is done by hand“, says Peter Seibstock. Loud pop music is playing in the manufactory’s kitchen. The hissing of the three refrigerators can be heard. This is where the fruit is stored and, when an order comes in, then it's time to go. “After ten days, the customer has their goods, freshly boiled down.” This is done very traditionally with sugar. Peter Seibstock only uses apple pectin as a gelling agent. He and his employees fill small and medium-sized jars by hand. Each filled glass is weighed. “So that it’s right!”, says Peter Seibstock. Then it is pasteurised and cooled. This ensures that no bacteria or fungi remain in the jar. “We'll do that in a cycle starting from next year. In the process, the same water is reused instead of using new water all the time.” When the jars are ready, they go down a floor. Here they are prepared for dispatch. “We are a manufactory, because we really do everything by hand – even the labels!” And in winter? “From October onwards, the village is deserted. That's when it's as beautiful as it is scary to work here.”

Born from fresh ideas

What new ideas are you working on right now?

We are always tinkering around with new things. We will soon be launching an organic applesauce made entirely without sugar. And a spicy salsa.

What is your favourite jam?

It’s not on sale, but I really like it: we made an apricot jam with rum. The recipe is ready, so maybe I'll still introduce it onto the market.

Text: Cara Biank
Photos: Armin Huber

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