Miele della Lunigiana PDO is honey obtained from flower nectar transformed by domestic bees belonging to the Apis mellifera local ecotype and left to mature in the hives. Based on the flowers, the honey is subdivided into two typologies: Castagno (chestnut) produced from the flowers of Castanea sativa M., and Acacia, which is produced from the flowers of Robinia pseudoacacia L.
The production area of Miele della Lunigiana PDO is within the territory of 14 municipal areas in the Province of Massa Carrara, in the Tuscany region.
The honey begins to form when the worker bees pass the drop of raw material gathered (trophallaxis) to the “house bees”. The repetition of this action provokes a reduction in the water content and enriches the nectar with the glandular secretions of the bees, determining a series of chemical transformations in the sugars. The hives in which Miele della Lunigiana PDO is produced can either be fixed or moved around, on the condition that they remain within the production area for the entire blooming period. The honey is extracted directly from the honeycombs through a centrifuging process, after the bees have been removed with methods that preserve the quality of the product - the use of repellents is absolutely forbidden. The honey is then filtered with impermeable filters. The product is decanted into purpose-made containers which keep the honey liquid and clear for a long period of time.
Appearance and Flavour
Miele della Lunigiana PDO di Acacia has a sticky, gluey consistency, with a very pale colour that can darken to straw yellow; it has a light fruity aroma, which is neither strong nor sugary and a very sweet flavour, with a delicate vanilla aroma that leaves no aftertaste; the sediment is virtually pollen-free. Miele della Lunigiana PDO di Castagno (chestnut honey) maintains its liquid appearance for a long period of time, but it may also present partial and irregular crystallisation; it is distinguished by its dark amber colour and has a penetrating aroma; the flavour is persistent with a bitter note and the sediment is rich in pollen.
The origins of Miele della Lunigiana PDO date back to at least 1508, as demonstrated by the general Valuation books of the Municipality of Pontremoli, where a census reported that there were 331 hives that year. Honey production was considered a money making venture even back then, with each owned beehive being subject to tax. The practice of entrusting the management of the apiaries, which were generally owned by wealthy Pontremolese families, to the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, was already widespread at this time. The importance of this type of production was confirmed over the following centuries, as proved by the founding of the Pontremolese Apiary Society in 1873, which was committed to the diffusion of traditional Lunigiana beekeeping.
Miele della Lunigiana PDO maintains its particular characteristics for a long time if kept away from direct light and heat sources. It can be enjoyed in its natural form, on its own (spread on Tuscan bread or as a sweetener in espresso coffee) or used as an ingredient for the preparation of biscuits and cakes, such as Panforte, Cantucci and Spongata, typical traditional Tuscan delicacies.
The product is marketed as Miele della Lunigiana PDO in the following typologies: Miele della Lunigiana PDO di Acacia and Miele della Lunigiana PDO di Castagno. It is sold year round in glass jars of 0.3 g.to 1 kg, with twist off lids.
Miele della Lunigiana PDO is produced in an environment, the Lunigiana, which is particularly suitable for beekeeping; the low degree of anthropization and limited industrial development has preserved the natural elements of the area.