Chestnuts from Tuscany | Natural treasures
Autumn time is chestnut time and there is hardly anyone who does not look forward to freshly roasted chestnuts!
For centuries, sweet chestnuts have been an integral part of the Tuscan forests and it is impossible to imagine Tuscany‘s culinary tradition without chestnut nuts in the form of flour, mush or whole nuts.
In botanical terms, chestnuts (Castanea sativa) belong to the beech family (Fagaceae) and have nothing to do with the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), a soap tree. Only the spiny pods, the chestnut hedge- hogs look similar, so the similarity in name seems to derive from that.
More than 177,000 hectares of sweet chestnuts grow in the forests of Tuscany and some trees have reached spectacular sizes and ages. For example, the „Castagnon d‘la Rena Cervara“ chestnut in Pontremoli is currently the largest of its kind, with a trunk circumference of around 12.40 meters, and has an estimated age of around 1,021 years. In the municipality of Lucca, near Pisa, there are five trees alone that are between 500 and over 600 years old and have trunk girths of between 6 m and 11.50 m. Sweet chestnuts are therefore true Methusalems. In Italy, by the way, a distinction is made between „castagne“, the chestnuts that grow in the wild, and „marroni“, which grow – partly grafted – in the marroneti, the chestnut groves. A distinction is also made between roasted chestnuts and flour chestnuts, the latter having a much longer shelf life as flour.
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