Marrone del Mugello (Mugello chestnut)

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Marrone del Mugello

IGP Marrone del Mugello is an Italian fresh marron chestnut in the shell or dried in the shell or shelled or ground into flour or other processed forms in which the nut remains distinguishable. The Marrone di Mugello fresh in the shell is characterized by a medium - large size (not more than 80 nuts/Kg, with a tolerance of an additional 10% for bad years), with a prevalently ellipsoidal shape; not very prominent top with the presence of tomentum, terminating in a tuft which is also tomentose: normally with one lateral face tending to be flat, the other greatly convex; very rectangular-shaped hilar cicatrix (or base) of a size such as to not continue onto the lateral faces, generally flat and lighter in colour than the pericarp. Thin, reddish-brown pericarp, with 25 to 30 darker, raised, longitudinal striations. The pericarp is easily detached from the episperm, which is chamois-coloured and with little invagination. The seed, normally one per nut, has a meat which is white, crisp and pleasantly sweetflavoured, with a surface almost entirely without grooves; nuts with the seed divided (septate) are rare.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREA: Part of the territory of the Province of Florence, which corresponds to part of the Mugello area, entirely including the territory of the communes of Dicomano, Marradi and Palazzuolo sul Senio, and part of the territory of the communes of Borgo San Lorenzo, Firenzuola, Londa, Rufina, San Godenzo, Scarperia and Vicchio di Mugello.

EVIDENCE OF ORIGIN: The cultivating of nut-bearing chestnut groves in the Mugello area may go back to Roman times; there is considerable documentation from the Middle Ages and later on testifying to the extent and importance of chestnut-growing, mentioning the marron chestnut in particular. Up until the end of the 1950s, the centuries-old nut-bearing chestnut groves in the area were an important and irreplaceable source of food and income for the local population, such that the chestnut was given the well-deserved name of "the tree of sustenance". After a 30-year period of steep decline, during which time there was a considerable depopulation of the mountain area, a change in diet and the appearance and spreading of chestnut canker which drastically reduced the area covered by chestnut groves, in the 1980s this sector began a great recovery, favoured by good market conditions for marron chestnuts and also by the realization that chestnut groves are not only a significant source of income but are also extremely important as a collective heritage from historic, environmental, scenic and tourist-recreational viewpoints. At the present time there are 3,322 hectares of nut-bearing chestnuts in the proposed area, and the marron chestnut production put on the market yearly ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes, to which should be added the retail sales directly from the farms and internal consumption; the average annual gross sellable product for the producer is estimated at approximately Lit. 7,000,000.

ACQUISITION: The Marrone di Mugello is produced in nut-bearing chestnut groves, consisting of chestnut trees, often centuries-old, which belong to a group of local ecotypes, all traceable to the Marrone Fiorentino variety, which has been propagated agamically for many centuries. The nut-bearing chestnut groves must be situated on suitable soils, at elevations ranging between 300 and 900 meters above sea level. The number of producing trees per hectare must not exceed 120 for old groves and 160 for new chestnut groves. The maximum production is established at 15 Kg per tree and 1,500 Kg per hectare. The applying of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides is prohibited for producing groves. Harvesting is generally done by hand. After harvesting the chestnuts may be marketed for consumption as a fresh product without any type of treatment or processing or, to improve preservability, they may be cured in cold water for not more than 8 days without any additives being added, or sterilized in a hot water bath followed by a cold water bath without any additives being added, using the correct local method. The operations of sorting, sizing, treatment of the product with "curing" in cold water and sterilizing, as well as packaging, must be done within the territory of the Comunità Montana Zona "E". For marketing purposes (staggering sales) the product may be stored in suitable storage places. The fresh product may be marketed for consumption beginning on October 5 of the production year. The Marrone di Mugello may be marketed not only as a fresh product but also as a processed product having the following characteristics: dried in the shell, shelled whole or ground, obtained by using the traditional local method of drying on grates over a slow, steady fire burning chestnut wood only. The moisture content of the whole or ground nuts must not exceed 15%; the product must be immune to parasites of any type; the yield of peeled dry marron chestnuts may not exceed 35%, and the yield of dried chestnuts in the shell may not exceed 65%; the shelled dried chestnuts must be whole and sound with a light straw-yellow colour, and with not more than 10% of blemishes (traces of worm holes, deformations, etc.).

LINK: The geographical link between the marron chestnut and the Mugello, an area especially well-suited for growing nut-bearing chestnuts, stems mainly from the fact that the local ecotypes of chestnut, all traceable to the Marrone Fiorentino variety, reproduced agamically for many centuries (as confirmed by the presence of many centuries-old trees), besides being genetically adapted to the local environment (soils, climate, cultivation methods, etc.) form an indissoluble pair with it and give the chestnuts characteristics which make them completely distinguishable from those from other areas. Over the centuries, numerous important local, rural and home traditions, methods and practices have been associated with the chestnut tree and nuts, such that it is spoken in the area of the existence of a true "chestnut civilization". The qualitative characteristics of the Marrone di Mugello have long been known and appreciated also in other areas, as proved by the trade with other regions, which also took place in the past.

Reference: The European Commission