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Consumption of horticultural products

Pulses and beans are traditionally the most common vegetables used in our cuisine.

The consumption of leafy vegetables has increased on the Atlantic side of the watershed in recent decades. Before the Spanish Civil War, eating leafy vegetables was rather rare and they were only eaten under doctor's orders. Nowadays, a diet based on a dish of leafy vegetables is becoming more popular and is replacing the typical and traditional beans. Things have now changed and the trend is now to eat very few beans and pulses and a great deal of leafy vegetables, often mixed with potatoes. However, leafy vegetables were more frequently eaten as a daily dish on the Mediterranean side of the watershed.

Pulses and beans

Beans, broad beans, chickpeas and lentils are the most widely eaten pulses and beans.

Leafy vegetables and other vegetable products

The vegetables include: Swiss chard, chicory, artichokes, rice, aubergines, watercress, cabbage, borage, courgette, pumpkin, cardoon, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, endives, escarole, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, turnip, potato, cucumber, peppers and chilli, radish, beetroot and tomatoes.

Domestic preserving methods

The most common systems to preserve fruit and vegetables have been.

  • Drying
  • Preserving using sugar
  • Preserving in vinegar
  • Bottling and canning
  • Cold preservation

These systems are used to keep certain produce as long as possible, as that brings the household economy into play. The above methods have therefore been used and, logically, they have evolved with time.


Drying is used to reduce the water content of the produce and thus protect it from microbes. The fruit is sometimes blanched before being dried. Obviously, this system is more feasible in areas with reduced environmental humidity, such as the Mediterranean side of the watershed in Alava and Navarra. The products dried in that area include: prunes, figs, grapes, peaches, tomatoes (Moreda-A), olive (Sangüesa-N), green beans and fresh broad beans (Sangüesa-N).

There is also a series of products that are dried throughout the country regardless of the climate: apples, pears, medlars, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, white beans, Choricero peppers, garlic and onions.

Preserving using sugar

Using sugar for preserving food involves concentrations of the sugar that makes it impossible for the produce to be attacked by microorganisms. This is achieved by drying the fruit in sugar and, more frequently, cooking it in sugar to make jam. Cooked fruit have also been preserved in very sugary solutions, in other words, in syrup.

Preserving in vinegar

Crops have traditionally been preserved in vinegar, an operation known as pickling, in some towns of Navarra. The most common have been peppers and chilli (Mélida, Monreal, San Martín de Unx, Artajona, Allo). Onions (Mélida), gherkins (Mélida), olives (San Martín de Unx), green tomatoes (Allo), and later, carrots, florets and wild leeks (Allo).

The produce is usually preserved in vinegar in clay pots.

Bottling and canning

Canning or bottling is the most common preservation method. Once the recipient is filled with the product, it heated to a high temperature to make sure that the content is not spoiled. The most frequent method is the Bain Marie, even though the heat left in the oven after baking the bread used to be used in some areas. Once the jar with its content has been heated, the preservation is good.

The recipients using for bottling have also evolved to the current glass jar with a hermetically sealed metal lid. The availability of this type of jar, which efficiently isolates the content from the environment, has helped to make bottled food, and it can be kept for different periods of time without any changes to it.

Cold preservation

Before fridges became commonplace, the most widespread food refrigeration system was the cool pantry. This device was a type of metal box with a door opening into the kitchen. The mesh was sufficiently dense to prevent flies from coming in. The cool pantry always faced north and was in the gaps of balconies or windows.

Fridges then began to become commonplace, along with freezers more recently. Those household devices make it easier to keep perishable food and freezers, in particular, allow a wide range of products to be kept in the best condition and during long periods of time.

Preserved products


The preserved fruit includes: apples, pears, plums, quince, grapes, grape syrup and grape juice reduction, figs, cherries and morello cherries, peaches, blackberries, medlars and olives.

Dried fruits and nuts

Chestnuts were the main nut eaten in the traditional food on the Cantabrian side of the watershed until fifty years ago. The chestnut tree was the most common one in the woodland prior to the mass planting of pines from 1925 onwards.

Special mention should also be made of walnuts and hazelnuts.

Dried fruits and nuts

Chestnuts were the main nut eaten in the traditional food on the Cantabrian side of the watershed until fifty years ago. The chestnut tree was the most common one in the woodland prior to the mass planting of pines from 1925 onwards.

Special mention should also be made of walnuts and hazelnuts.


Tomatoes and peppers are the most commonly preserved fruit and vegetable.

Out of all the products that are commonly bottled or canned, tomatoes are the ones that have been prepared in that way since ancient times and their preserving is most widespread.

If people grow tomatoes, they bottle them or otherwise they buy them from the market.

Peppers, in the same way as many of the fruit and vegetables already mentioned, can be preserved in two ways: by drying and bottling or canning.


The appearance of the fridge, whose use became widespread from the 1960s onwards, led to a great change in food preservation techniques as thanks to it, perishable goods lasted for much longer.

Freezing started to be used when freezer compartments began to be added to the fridge. However, what has revolutionised preservation methods are the larger modern freezers, arcones or izotz kutxa (Zerain-G), which are able to reach very low temperatures. They began to be introduced at the end of the 1980s and have become very popular.


Strawberries are the only fruit that is frozen according to the surveys. In Obanos (N), the strawberries are washed, hulled and dried in a cloth. They are coated with sugar and put in the freezer on trays. On the following day, the strawberries are removed from the freezer and kept in plastic boxes to be eaten later in the year. They are kept for celebrations and, above all, to eat with cream at Christmas.