Castagna Cuneo PGI is a fresh or dried chestnut belonging to the Castanea sativa M. species, deriving from the following varieties: Ciapastra, Tempuriva, Bracalla, Contessa, Pugnante, Sarvai d’Oca, Sarvai di Gurg, Sarvaschina, Siria, Rubiera, Marrubia, Gentile, Verdesa, Castagna della Madonna, Frattona, Gabiana, Rossastra, Crou, Garrone Rosso, Garrone Nero, Marrone di Chiusa Pesio and Spina Lunga.
The chestnut trees are cultivated in low, drained soils, rich in organic matter and without active limestone, elements that give this fruit its special organoleptic characteristics. The young chestnut plants are checked and trimmed regularly using traditional regional methods. After the harvest, Castagna Cuneo PGI can be treated with hot water or subjected to a dipping technique, which involves immersing the chestnuts in vats containing water at room temperature for 7-9 days. This induces slight fermentation which allows for the creation of a sterile environment without the use of additives. The product may be frozen if the shell is removed. Dried Castagna Cuneo PGI is produced with traditional desiccation techniques, over a low flame in special brick structures.
Appearance and Flavour
The exterior of fresh Castagna Cuneo PGI ranges from light chestnut to dark brown in colour; the star shaped hilum varies in size and is hazelnut in colour; the episperm has a yellow to pale brown colour and the seed is white to cream with a crunchy consistency and a sweet and delicate flavour. Dried Castagna Cuneo PGI is shelled and has a pale straw colour.
The production area of Castagna Cuneo PGI is within around 100 municipalities in the Province of Cuneo, in the Piedmont region.
Castagna Cuneo PGI boasts ancient origins. The history of the populations inhabiting the Cuneo valley is in fact linked to the production and consumption of chestnuts. The first references to chestnut cultivation in the Province of Cuneo date back to the end of the XII century. Documentation starting from the XVII century is more precise; in fact, castles belonging to the House of Savoy recorded the quantity and characteristics of products from the chestnut orchards. After the unification of Italy, the chestnut continued to be an essential component of the population’s diet and the revenue of mountain families. At the beginning of the XX century, there was a cultivation crisis due to the exodus of families towards the big cities and abroad; it was only towards the end of the century that chestnut production recovered, arriving at the great fame of today.
Castagna Cuneo PGI should be kept in a cool, dry place. It is excellent eaten raw, boiled or roasted, but also as an ingredient in desserts, mousses, soufflés, Bavarian cream and ice cream. Chestnut flour and dried chestnuts are also used together in traditional dishes from the Cuneo area, such as polenta, tagliatelle, ravioli and gnocchi.
The product is marketed as Castagna Cuneo PGI in two typologies: Fresh and Dry. The first are available on the market from the beginning of October to mid- November; the second, throughout the winter period until mid-March. The product is sold in packaging of different materials, with a weight ranging from 100 g to 30 kg; in wooden or plastic chests or jute sacks with a weight of 5, 10, 25, 30, 50 and 100 kg. It is also used as ingredient for the production of Farina di Castagna Cuneo PGI (chestnut flour).
Castagna Cuneo PGI owes its particular characteristics to the climatic conditions of the production area, which is situated at a relatively low altitude of between 200 and 1000 metres above sea level.