02. The extraction of manna

02. L'estrazione della mannaAsh begins producing at the age of 6-8, but not all plants go into productionat the same age and in the same period.
In fact, maturation depends on some elements: in addition to dannexto variety, from the nature of the soil, from the exposure and from the altitude.
The production season begins according to the climatic trend and the first incisions are made between the end of June and the first half of July when the leaves, due to the scarcity of water and high temperatures, lose their usual luster and appear opaque. , rippled and yellowish.
Depending on the seasonal trend, the duration of production varies: sometimes it lasts until mid-September. In the rainy or very hot summer seasons, production is significantly reduced.
02. L'estrazione della mannaThe frassinicoltore called mannaluòru (in the Sicilian dialect is the one who produces manna) or 'ntaccaluòru (who makes the' ntacche, or the incisions in the bark), makes sure of the maturation of the ash trees, cutting a piece of bark from the plant (pipita).
If a drop comes out of the wound, the plant is mature and the first incision of the season is made.
The incisions ('ntacche), must be made with energy, so as to affect the entire thickness of the bark up to the sapwood, for a length ranging from 5 to 10 cm, starting from 5 cm from the ground.
What the ash grower performs is a ritual that has been handed down for centuries, always the same. He practices on the trunk and on the main branches of each plant, the new notches at a distance of about 2 cm from theprevious and slightly inclined to facilitate the drainage of the manna.
The mannaluòru has a particular care for its plants and, in order not to damage them, and to safeguard the quantity of the harvest, it engraves the tree with almost surgical precision. A special tool is used for engraving (cutieddu mannaluoru or cutièddu â manna), a kind of very sharp and pointed billhook.
A purplish and bitter liquid gushes from the incisions made, which becomes sweet in contact with the air and quickly thickens forming a light, whitish crystalline layer: manna.
In relation to the natural inclination of the trunk or to the application of special reliefs placed on the bark, the dripping liquid forms a whitish stalactite of various lengths, the "cannòlo", which constitutes the most valuable part of the manna.
02. L'estrazione della mannaWhen the secretion is abundant or the climatic conditions only slow down its solidification along the trunk, the liquid drains to the ground where it is collected in the concave "blades" of prickly pear, in the rigid agave leaves or in terracotta shards, where it slowly occurs crystallization. In this way, the so-called "manna in fate" or "shovel manna" is obtained.
The part of sap that congeals along the trunk constitutes the "manna in scrap".
In the first year of production the "'ntacche" are made on the "chest" of the ash, that is the most protruding side; in the second the opposite side is cut, the "back", in the third and fourth year on the two "sides".
But the larger plants, in favorable years, can bear incisions on more than one side, if during the season with the incisions the point of insertion of the main branches is reached.
After four years, the first shift of exploitation is completed, but the southern ash varieties are able to produce manna in the previously affected areas, for another 3-4 shifts, on condition, however, that the already well-healed cutting surfaces are smoothed, by means of debarking.