La 'nduja di Spilinga

by Filippo Ambrogio

La macellazione - Disegno di Reginaldo D'Agostino

History and Traditions


The word ‘nduja comes from French,maybe.In fact,the Transalpin word “andouille”means “sausage”.In different parts of France, there is a sausage made with tripe,liver and entrails,boiled with vegetables and herbs.Maybe,its introduction in Calabria is due to French people,during the Napoleonic era(1806-1815).  Someone else says that ‘nduja and chilli too, were brought by Spanish,during the Sixteenth Century;to support this hypothesis,there is the great use of hot sausages in Spain. Pigs breeding was and still is one of the traditional activities of Calabrian rural families;and sausages,previously eaten only by nobles,started to be eaten by everybody,eventually.


It’s a plain food,born of paisants’ needs to use the renmans of pork meat,destinated to landowners.In ancient times, ‘nduja imposed itself not only for its nourishing value,but also for the therapeutical one;thanks to the abundance of chilli mixed with meat.  Today, ‘nduja is a successful product, because it departs from the mould of traditional sausages: it’s spread on bread,not cut in slices!and delicious also on toasts, served as horsd’oeuvre and it’s a good seasoning, mixed in sauce for classical dishes, as”fileja with ‘nduja”and “beans with ‘nduja”;being a versatile paté,’nduja can  also take place  in a very elegant context of vintage wines and oils tasting.  By representing Calabrian “strong” tastes,it enjoys the  genuine image of positive values and strictly ties itself to the place where it was born


Its aspect

Nduja is a sausage made with the fat parts of pork meat(lard,fat and bacon),abundant chilli,salt ,naturally smoked and seasoned.   The ratio between pork meats and chilli is variable;normally, 2 kg. of meat go with 1 kg. of chilli;but the ratio can also be 3:1. Salt is added with a percentage of 3% on total.  'Nduja has a creamy consistency,strongly hot flavoured ,a characteristic smell-natural and intense at the same time-a vaguely cylindrical shape and 1 or 2 kg. weight. 

'Nduja di Spilinga

The quality of meats used to make ‘nduja has a great influence on the final product organoleptic characteristics.   Everybody is convinced  that pigs breeding must correspond to traditional uses.This means stalling in the open air,pigs food based on cereals,pulses,acorns,bran,vegetables and fruits leftovers, not much slops or milk serum,few figs; also today,as in ancient times, it’s a habit to feed pigs with chick-peas and broad beans,one month before their slaughtering.  Chilli has a rilevant role in the preparation of ‘nduja.It comes from plants exclusively cultivated on Poro tableland.There are two varieties,locally called” from Spilinga”:the first is long-shaped,red-coloured and with hot flavour; instead,the second                is round-shaped,red-coloured,but with sweet taste. Parts of both kinds of chilli are mixed in ‘nduja and depending on  their dosage,’nduja will taste differently.

Productive area

Mount Poro: rural Architecture.  Spilinga is considered the native area of ‘nduja production, even if this activity involves the whole Poro tableland area,actually:Ricadi,Limbadi,Rombiolo,Zaccanopoli,Zungri,Mesima valley and Serre,in the Province of Vibo Valentia.  Poro tableland- ca. 5.600 km of extension and maximum altitude of 710 m.s.l.m.-enjoys particular climate characteristics and is rich in pastures,which have improved the development of an agropastoral activity,to which ‘nduja brings its valuable contribute,as well.

To satisfy an increasing demand, also some factories producing salami in Catanzaro and Cosenza,started this activity.Anyway,that industrial final product shows the differences-regarding ingredients and working techniques-once compared to “classical”’nduja

Production technology


Grinding,mixture and salting

Selected parts:fat,lard and bacon are finely ground with chilli(so to let chilli develop its antioxidant properties better)and then slowly kneaded, to get an omogeneous and creamy mixture.  While kneading,salt is added.  Making into sausages and fastening. The creamy mixture is  sacked into a natural pork bowel,”l’orba”,the blind, and then, fastened with string at the ends.


It’s done,burning aromatic and resinous wood;normally,the essence of olive tree and robinia.Never use sawdust and other discarded materials!This operation occurs in proper places ,for 8-10 days.


Once smoked, the product is brought to well-aired places,where ‘nduja gradually loses weight,dries and concentrates its taste and characteristic smell.

Maturing phase lasts 90-150 days.

Supply characters

Nduja is mainly produced by paisants,who breed few pigs:part of the production is for personal consumption and the rest is sold.Of course,there is also a specialized firm which produces exclusively ‘nduja.

After sales increase,butchers’ as well developped the production of ‘nduja on their own.

The yearly production of ‘nduja is about 660-650q.,for craftsmen factories together with shops produce about 300q.and rating the rimanent production at about 400-450q.

Then,considering that the price is  ca. 13.000£ per kg.,the turnover should be around 800-850 millions lira.


Sausage factories production is half allocated to Calabrian market and the other part to extra-regional markets,national mainly,such as metropolitan big areas of Central and Northern Italy, where many families of Calabrian origins settled down,keeping alive a rilevant demand of this product.

In Calabria, ‘nduja marketing develops through wholesalers or agents,who look after distribution to selling points:supermarkets,restaurants,sausage shops;that is to say,through a direct channel producer-consumer,especially during the ‘nduja Festival of Spilinga,in August.

On national market,everything is in the hands of  sausage factories, selling agents and wholesalers.

The most important period for marketing is February-September.

‘Nduja is prepared with simple raw materials, skilfully kneaded and matured and transformed in a delicious product,which can surely stand comparison with the most famous and expensive patés.


Economic prospects

‘Nduja is the result of practical experiences,which made it a real “typical product”, through employed resources and technological processes.

The increasing demand opens new interesting prospects,as long as producers go on preserving the precious organoleptic qualities of this product,which can no doubt be considered as a unicum in the gastronomic survey.

The appreciation of ‘nduja could be included in a wider context of several  improving activities ,concerning an overall development of rural productions,agritourism,rural tourism,eno-gastronomic itineraries,the protection of natural resources and environment.

The achievement of DOP,still to be defined,with the consequent creation of a Consortium of producers and an aimed marketing strategy,can function as a catalyzer for a series of actions with beneficial effects on a marginal,but potentially productive and rich area.

Essential bibliography

F. ARCELLA, Prodotti tipici di Spilinga e del Comprensorio del Poro, Edizioni O.G.G., Vibo Valentia, 1997
L. BISCONTIN, Prodotti tipici e CEE, ecco cosa cambia, in Largo consumo, n. 9. 1993.
S. BOCCALETTI-D. MORO, La difesa delle produzioni agro-alimentari tradizionali della CEE, in Rivista di Politica agraria, n. 2, 1993.
F. CAPELLI, Tutela giuridica dei prodotti alimentari tipici in vista del mercato interno, in Rivista di Politica agraria, n. 3, 1990.
A. CARROZZA, Riflessioni preliminari sulla qualità dei prodotti agricoli, in Rivista di Diritto Agrario, n.1, 1993.
A. GUARDIELLO, Prodotti agro-alimentari tipici e rilancio delle aree interne meridionali, in Rassegna economica, n. 3, 1992.
C. PORCELLI,<<Spilinga>>- <<Tracce per un recupero della memoria del Monteporo>>, in Quaderni mediterranei, Vibo Valentia, 1998.
V. TETI, Il peperoncino. Un americano nel mediterraneo, Ed. Monteleone, Vibo Valentia, 1995.