Batata-Doce da Madeira PDO
Description: Batata-Doce da Madeira is the tuberous root of plants of Ipomoea batatas (L.) Noir, from the traditional varieties obtained on the inhabited islands of Madeira’s Archipelago, namely from varieties: “Brasileira”; “5 Bicos”; “Cenoura Regional”; "Inglesa"; “Cabeira”; “Amarelinha” and “Cabreira Branca do Porto Santo” between others cultivated forms of digitata and cordifolia varieties, produced following the traditional practices of Madeira and Porto Santo Islands.
Tuberous roots of “Batata-Doce da Madeira” have morphological characteristics (including the shape and the colour of their skin and pulp), that distinguish and allow them to be easily identified at the market by local consumers, and given them different commercial valorisation, depending on the length of their production cycle and, above all, on their nutritional and organoleptic properties.

In general terms, tuberous roots of traditional varieties of Batata-Doce da Madeira have high levels of moist, protein (on average above 4% in weight/weight in the dry layer) and ash (greater than 3%), that reveals their richness in mineral salts, whose composition is set by the intrinsic edaphoclimatic characteristics of the different locations, on Madeira and Porto Santo Islands, where they are produced and by the traditional cultural practices implemented in their production.
When raw, has the typical aroma of tuber, with earthy, vegetable, or herbaceous notes and a clear reference to chestnut flour or green walnut shell. Its sweet and farinaceous flavour intensifies with chewing and presents notes of chestnut pulp, and when produced on Porto Santo Island, also has a slightly salty, low acid and mineral taste. Always has a moist texture, tender and soft or crunchy and more or less fibrous, which in some varieties, gives them technological aptitude for flour production.
The pulp colour evolves from yellowish to greenish or from golden to orange tones, when cooked or baked, and aromas intensify, becoming more complex and sweeter, with light herbaceous, metallic (ferrous) or earthy touches, when cooked, and with notes chestnut, caramel or burnt wood, when baked. The intensity of the flavours is also reinforced, becoming sweeter, with a short aftertaste, or even slightly salty and less acidic when produced in Porto Santo, being always succulent and with notes of chestnut, when cooked, or with hints of caramel, when baked. The texture is usually smooth, buttery, and easy to chew, being slightly fibrous and with lint when baked.
Production method: Traditional varieties of Batata-Doce da Madeira are normally propagated from "stems" collected from adult plants or in plants intend for producing propagation material, installed in other plots of the farm or from other local or regional farms. Can also be purchased on official services or in authorized regional suppliers.
In Madeira Island traditional varieties of Batata-Doce da Madeira can present a long (over 10 months) or medium (from 6 to 8 months) vegetative cycle, while in Porto Santo Island are mainly produced medium-cycle traditional varieties, like the native variety “Cabreira Branca of Porto Santo. Depending on the location and the traditional variety, planting can be carried out between May and June or between September and October.
On terraces of Madeira Island, before planting, a shallow manual dig (with the help of a hoe) is carried out, to ensure the drainage and aeration conditions of soil and to promote the incorporation of organic material from “feiteira” (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn), “giesta” (Cytisus scoparius (L.)), or straws of cereal, sugarcane, or other vegetation, composted with cow, goat, or chicken manure, from the farm or others neighbouring farms. When composted organic matter are not available, chemical fertilizers adapted to the soil conditions are used. In Andossolos liming is also a frequent practice. On Porto Santo Island, agricultural production, and particularly of Batata-Doce da Madeira, is strongly affected by the almost total inexistence of local organic matter to be incorporated into soils. Thus, background fertilization is normally carried out with organic correctives and chemical fertilizers adapted to the alkalinity and permeability conditions of its sandy to silty soils, mainly of biological origin and therefore rich in calcium, magnesium, and some potassium, which give them a pH favourable to most agricultural crops.
Type and frequency of irrigation are adjusted to local weather conditions. So, in Madeira Island are mostly carried out from the network of irrigation channels, locally known as “levadas”, while in Porto Santo it is more used the localized watering (drip-to-drip). Irrigation cannot cause the waterlogged of soil and, in the pre-harvest period, should be spaced to allow the maturation of the tuberous root, avoiding changes in its organoleptic characteristics and its conservation capacity.
Harvest is carried out manually (with a hoe) and, depending on the variety and place of production, can take place in September or from December on. After harvesting and drying on grounds, "potatoes" are prepared and packaged, to be sale at proximity markets or for direct delivery to customers. Can also be collected and stored in a cool and dry place at the farm's warehouse or be transported to the regional packaging center for conservation or for classification and packaging for marketing on regional market or shipment to foreign markets.
Special features:  Specific character of Batata-Doce da Madeira results from the use of propagation material of traditional varieties, exclusively obtained locally, that had adapted to agroclimatic conditions and to the intrinsic characteristics of the cultivated soils of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo. “Batata-Doce da Madeira” tuberous roots have physic-chemical and organoleptic characteristics, which give them favourable nutritional properties and suitability for diverse culinary and technological uses, and that are resultant from the genetic conditions of plants from different origin, which have adapted to local edaphoclimatic conditions and to the traditional cultural practices, that have been implemented and preserved by the Madeiran farmers, over generations.
Production area: All stages, from obtaining the vegetative material to the cultivation and harvesting of tuberous roots, take place in the identified geographical area, which is limited to the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, in Madeira’s Archipelago. 
History: Although the historical records indicate that this cultivation was introduced to Madeira's archipelago, at the 17th century, several researchers believe that, in Madeira and Porto Santo Islands, it production must have started during the first half of 16th century.
It is believed that traditional varieties of Batata-Doce da Madeira are the result from digitata varieties introduced, from Brazil, in the 16th century, and from cordifolia varieties that came from Demerara, during the 19th century, and from others that were brought from others emigration destinations of the Madeiran population, till the mid-20th century, and that through constant practices of production, selection and sharing of propagation material implemented by Madeiran farmers, originated a great diversity of cultivated forms that are maintained in production at the different agricultural areas of this Islands.
Madeira and Porto Santo Islands, located at the subtropical region of the North Atlantic, have unique and distinct physiographic characteristics. Madeira is characterized by an irregular morphology, with a central mountain range, of east-west orientation, perpendicular to the prevailing northeast winds (trade winds) and formed by mountainous massifs of high altitudes (over 1200 meters) with rugged relief and accentuated slopes, which determine a sunny and protected south slope and a humid north one with reduced insolation. Porto Santo (located at 40 km northeast of Madeira) has a very flat and smooth morphology, with more than 85% of the island below 200 meters in altitude and reaching its maximum height (517 m at Pico do Facho) in the more mountainous zone at northeast. Between this and the less rugged area at southwest, the relief is smoother, with altitudes below 150 m, decreasing from the north coast to the south coast, forming a wide bay with a fine sand beach and a dune field with about 9 km of length.
The islands’ climate is predominantly temperate, with mild temperatures throughout the year and reduced temperature range, due to the moderating effect of the sea, and with good exposure (more than 2,200 hours of open sun per year), conditions that allow good yields in Batata-Doce da Madeira production, which is cultivated from the coast to over 700 meters in altitude on the south slope and almost up to 500 meters in some localities of the north side of Madeira Island and throughout the entire cultivated areas of Porto Santo, where can find the average annual values of temperature (between 20 °C and 30 °C) and air humidity, considered optimal for the development of this crop, including night temperatures above 15 °C which, on most of the year, that promote the growth of storage roots and their complex composition in carbohydrate.
Average annual precipitation values, on the island of Madeira are close to 750 to 1.000 mm, so watering is only necessary at the lowest bioclimatic levels. This availability of water throughout all the production cycle, promotes the high moisture content of the pulp of these tuberous roots that, when raw, gives its characteristic juiciness, without compromising its crunchiness. Porto Santo's climate is much drier, with an annual rainfall of less than 400 mm and an annual potential evapotranspiration in order of 1500 mm. However, as long as crop's water and nutritional needs are guaranteed, it is possible to obtain good productions, mainly from the local traditional variety (Cabreira Branca do Porto Santo), more adapted to the edaphoclimatic conditions of this island.
On Madeira Island, dominant soils (mainly originated from basaltic material) were strongly influenced by the artificial constitution of agricultural land, from the widespread construction of "poios" or terraces, supported by paired stone walls, and by the constant digs and intense organic fertilization carried out over generations by local farmers. Thus, are mainly Phaeozems (PHh) soils, saturated Cambisols (mainly chromic - CMx) and unsaturated Cambisols (mostly dystric - CMd) but also Andosols (ANu) in higher zones. In general are characterized by a medium to high depth, with profiles of thickness between 30 and 50 cm or more than 50 cm; generally fine in texture and with a high percentage of slime; with medium organic matter contents in PHh to very high and above 7% in ANu; with a high to medium degree of base saturation in PHh and CMx, being less than 50% in CMd and ANu, with slightly acidic to neutral pH in PHh and CMx or presenting acidic pH in CMd and ANu. Are soils poor in phosphorus, moderately rich in potassium, and very rich in magnesium and sometimes also in calcium.
Most significant class of soils in agricultural areas of Porto Santo are Calcisols, with variable texture (from sandy to slime) and often sodic phase, with a low to medium content of organic matter at surface and a high degree of saturation in bases. However, the biological origin of most of the island's sands and sandstones make them richer in calcium and potassium and give them a pH (between 7 and 9) favourable to most agricultural crops.
In Madeira, soils natural poverty in phosphorus and crops requirements in nitrogen are mainly compensated by background fertilization carried out with incorporation of “dry bushes” and organic matter from cow, goat, or chicken manure, which promotes the aeration, the soil breakdown, and the slow release of nutrients, that contribute to the plant development and to the formation of tuberous roots. The great difficulty to obtaining local organic matter on Porto Santos Island makes that bottom fertilization be carried out mostly with organic correctives and chemical fertilizers adapted to the alkalinity and permeability conditions of its soils. This widespread practice of carrying out background fertilization, together with the elements that are directly incorporated by the intrinsic conditions of the different soils of the islands, favours storage of high levels of protein and ash and the composition of mineral salts that characterize Batata-Doce da Madeira.
The introduction of this crop from various geographical origins and its perfect adaptation to the different agroecological conditions of the islands and to the cultural practices implemented by Madeiran farmers, led to the development and preservation of a great diversity of cultivated forms, that belong to the genetic reserve “batata”, corresponding to the 3rd world genetic reserve of this species, originated from the South American continent and whose identified cultural forms are preserved “ex situ” in Madeira's Germoplasma Bank (ISOPlexis/Germobanco).
Because is a culture with remarkable productivity and easy conservation, soon after its introduction, assumed great importance in safety and quality food of rural population, later reaching the table of wealthier classes and urban populations, as is widely documented in reports of several outsiders who visited or inhabited the islands throughout the 18th to 19th centuries and who report that Batata-Doce da Madeira cultivation had a long tradition, being used in rotation with other traditional cultures and playing a fundamental role, not only as the base of local feeding, but also as "bargaining chip" to obtain fish from fishing communities.
Traditional varieties of Batata-Doce da Madeira correspond to cultivated forms, whose propagation material remains in possession of local communities and has been selected, reproduced and maintained by farmers, who have always shared and propagated, throughout the islands, the vegetative material of varieties that best adapted to the local agro-ecological conditions, and for that reason had the best yields and the most appreciated organoleptic properties to be use in food, bakery and traditional Madeiran confectionery and, more recently, in flour processing industry.
Specials characteristics of «Batata-Doce da Madeira» are recognized both by local consumers and by tourists who annually visit the islands and who are great fonds of this sweet and tasty root which, cooked or baked, is the ideal complement to the rich regional cuisine and in particular in traditional dishes as “cozido à madeirense”, in addition of being the fundamental ingredient in confection of various types of traditional bread and others regional pastry specialties, like: “batata-doce-caramelizada”, “bolo frito”, “batatada”, “fartes” and “malassadas”.
Batata-Doce da Madeira is linked to many Madeirans popular traditions and that’s why always occupies a prominent place in traditional “Charolas”, that are made up of spherical structures where are tied up agricultural products cultivated by local farmers, mainly, in religious celebrations related to the Popular Saints and to the Holy Spirit, and in others ethnographic events or “Festas” to promote traditional agri-food products, where these “Charolas” symbolizes “the solemn thanks of local farmers for the fertility of their lands and for the blessings achieved during all year”, and that, at the end of the event, are auctioned or shared to help the neediest population of the zone.
Control plan
Control plan (pdf)
Publication in EU official journal
JOUE C1497 de 15.02.2024
Publication in the Portuguese official journal