Fruit, vegetables and desserts

Monte Amiata chestnut IGP

A sweet, delicate chestnut from the volcanic soils of the Amiata

style
Category
Fruit, vegetables and desserts
place
Origin
Monte Amiata
stars
Quality label
IGP
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Consortium
Associazione per la valorizzazione della Castagna del Monte Amiata
Chestnuts have always been cultivated in the area around Mount Amiata, a fertile land surrounding a centuries-old volcano.
 
Since the 14th century the statutes of the community at Amiata provided rigid laws regarding the production and harvesting of chestnut trees - both for nuts and wood. These laws prohibited damaging or cutting young trees or dried trees which were still standing, with steep fines to be paid by transgressors. The harvest had to respect a precise calendar which included a period dedicated to the owner of the trees, and a secondary open harvest which lasted until Carnival to ensure that even the poorest members of society were able to gather some sustenance from the trees.  
 
The product

Cultivated at an elevation between 350 and 1000 metres above sea level on volcanic soil which creates ideal conditions for the chestnuts. Synthetic fertilizers are prohibited during the productive phase of the plant and the harvest, which takes place between the middle of September and the middle of November, has to be done by hand or - at the very least - with a mechanical system which protects the product. Production levels are limited to 12kg per plant, 1800kg per hectare. The chestnut is produced in three varieties: Marrone, Bastarda rossa and Cecio. The large nuts are oval and can be recognized by their poorly articulated apex, their red tinged colour with darker streaks. Its flavour is sweet and delicate.

At the table

The nuts, either boiled or roasted, marry perfectly with sweet muscat wines, gelato and custards. The chestnuts can be dried and ground for flour to make Castagnaccio and chestnut polenta.

 

Cover image credit: James Manners

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Food and Wine