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REAL DEAL Lanzarote’s Cochineal Secures EU Seal of Approval

Wednesday February 17, 2016

REAL DEAL Lanzarote’s Cochineal Secures EU Seal of Approval

Lanzarote’s cochineal industry has been awarded official Denomination of Origin protection by the European Union. Placing the carmine dye produced by local artisans on a similar footing to other well known protected products, such as Gorgonzola cheese and Parma ham.

This stamp of approval has been fostered by the Canary Islands Association of Breeders and Exporters and grants official EU recognition of both the product’s quality and authenticity.

Unlike cochineal harvested in other locations around the world, the Canary Island’s unique technique is based entirely and specifically on just the one type of beetle, which is cultivated solely on the Tunera Cactus. This is then dried and processed by just the heat of the sun, without the addition of any chemicals, so resulting in a pure and authentic end product.

Cochineal cultivation was first introduced to Lanzarote in the early 19th century, replacing a previous dependence on vines and sugar cane. Going on to reach a peak during the mid 1800’s in tandem with the explosion of textile production in England and Europe, before finally fading out in the 1870’s with the invention of new chemical dyes.

Whilst production today is on a much smaller scale these endeavours are still very much in evidence in and around the village of Guatiza, which was once the heart of the island’s cochineal industry.  And which is also home to the island's renowned Cactus Garden.

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