A day in the woods to harvest chestnuts

“It’s cold enough, this morning we go harvest chestnuts”. Matteo Cameli is always very clear in his words. This wonderful fruit of the woods was once barely the only way to eat something satisfying, especially for people who worked in the fields or used to grow cattle.

Winters were long and cold and chestnuts was used as grain in the plains: milled to produce wheat, roasted, used as a sauce to eat with meat or cheeses.

Chestnut is the king of mountains, not only in Romagna but also in Tuscany. These two regions share a very long border other than a very important natural park, the national park of Foreste Casentinesi and Monte Falterona.

Harvesting chestnuts in Portico di Romagna

You do not need much to harvest except a good pair of shoes, a lot of will and a good rate of patience. You are in the middle of some ancient chestnuts fields. Here the trees that covers the hills like a forest have more than 100 years. Sage giants that have seen the history of these places but still are there to give us their precious fruits.

Leaves are light green, a perfect contrast with the dark brown of the chestnuts that are covered by a nutshell of thorns. The trees are really high, but you do not need to climb them. Fruits fall on the ground so that you can pick them.

Humans are not the only ones who enjoy chestnuts: wild pigs, squirrels and many other inhabitants of the forest like them.

Picking chestnuts is easy. For the first hour! But it can be very wearisome, since there are no industrial machines that can help.

The trees climb the hills and the chestnuts roll over the plain, so that they scatter around the place. Cold is slowly going away while we are working. The idea is to use those chestnuts to prepare something good once we will be back.

How to use chestnuts

These are a couple of example of what you can prepare with chestnuts! Some kinds of pasta but also a soup. Chestnuts flour is sweet and is the best to do cakes or biscuits. Write to us if you want a special recipe.Enjoy!