Discover "the gold of Corsican mountain"
More than 5 centuries of chestnut crop in Corsica
Present in Corsica since thousands years, it’s today the emblematic tree of the island, and an integral part of cultural heritage and Corsican environment. Chestnut crop was originally decreed by Genovese, then perpetuated by Pascal Paoli because “as long as we’ll have chestnut trees, we’ll have bread”. Indeed, during times of famine, chestnut was staple food of local populations, in particular in Castagniccia : area which abound with chestnut groves. Since then, “the bread tree” production has enjoyed a great rise. However this last one has decreased substantially since 2010, because chestnut trees have been infected by the Cypnis, a disease due to an insect who eats trees. Even if GRPTCMC (regional association of chestnut producers) and INRA (French national body for agronomic research) of San Giuliano are both working on a cure, it will take about ten years before we can observe positive results and a production growth.
Chestnuts are harvested mid-October and undergo numerous manufacturing process in order to produce the famous flour. In a first phase takes place the drying out: in a traditional way (during 21 days chestnut are placed above a wood-fire) or with a mechanical forced-air dryer. Then there is the shelling: this involves separating the two skins (the shell and the tan) from the kernel. Chestnuts are then manually sorted in order to select only the best of them. This brings into the roasting phase, which involves cooking the sorted fruit in a pre-heated at 90°C during 24 to 48 hours, to complete the water extraction of chestnuts and give them a better taste, just before the grinding phase. Then the flour can finally be bagged and labelled before to be put on the market.
Sweet, the chestnut flour has a fruity taste and a praline savor of biscuit. Pure and fine, it melts in the mouth. It has also great nutritional qualities: rich in proteins, very low in fat, and gluten-free.
Chestnut flour has two different PDO: one obtained in 2006 (French AOC), and the other one for “Farine de châtaigne corse – Farina Castagnina Corsa” (French AOP) in 2010.Those designations involve a production based in Corscia, in accordance with ancestral methods and know-how, with local variety of chestnuts, and cropped without any chemical treatments.
Besides flour, we can find a wide range of products made with chestnut: biscuits, cakes, traditional pulenda, beer… but also some local items with chestnut wood made by hand. We find those products directly from our local craftsmen and producers, in shops, and also on markets, in particular at Bocognano’s Fair (late November – early December).
Some key figures
- Chestnut grove hectares: 30 000 (only 2000 of whom are farmed)
- Chestnut producers: 90
- Global production: 150 metric tonnes a year
- Mills: 35 in operation
So, are you tempted by a stay in the heart of Castagniccia ?