Tuscan products

by Samuele Sodini

Chestnut flour

Tuscan products: chestnut flour of the Garfagnana
The cultivation of chestnuts in Garfagnana area, has its origins far in the past and has spread across the whole area. Chestnut flour is made from the harvested fruits. This is the sweet flour which comes from stone milling of the previuously dried chestnuts.
Historically, the drying of the chestnuts is done in a specifically designed barn called “metato”. Today those barns are built from stone or brick and are generally distributed throughout the chestnut woods, of varying size and divided halway up by a floor made of sticks of wood laid next to each other (the “canniccio”), over which the chestnuts are laid. A small flameless fire made from chestnut logs is set below, the smoke rising through the chestnuts to dry them slowly for about 40 days, leaving them ready to be shelled and ground.

The most widely used varieteies are Carpinese, Pontecosi, Mazzangaia, Pelosora, Rossola, Verdora, Nerona and Capannaccia all suitable for transformation into flour. The maximum production capacity allowed is 3,500 kg per hectare.
The DOP Chestnut flour of the Garfagnana is very fine to the touch and on the palate, the colour varying from white to dark ivory and a typical chestnut odour.

The area of production includes the municipalities of the province of Lucca – Castelnuovo Garfagnana, Pieve Fosciana, San Romano di Garfagnana, Sillano, Piazza al Serchio, Minucciano, Camporgiano, Careggine, Fosciandora, Giuncugnano, Molazzana, Vergemoli, Vagli, Villa Collemalndina, Gallicano, Borgo a Mozzano, Barga, Coreglia Antelminelli, Fabbriche di Vallico, Bagni di Lucca.
The flour is used to make a particular type of polenta, and sweets or cakes such as “castagnaccio” and “frittelle“.
During the two wars of the 20th century it was the food that allowed the local population to survive.

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