Chestnut has been cultivated from Roman times to the present day in two forms: fruit chestnut and coppice; has always represented an important resource for the peasant families of Lunigiana: a basic source of food together with the possibility of obtaining other products such as wood, coal and tannin. And today in Lunigiana, even after the significant contraction of the chestnut tree species, in the last decades, which have turned into woods, it is possible to find the signs of this ancient crop, in the many typical and traditional preparations based on chestnut flour. : lasagna bastarde, pattona, boiling, pancakes, armogliolo and many others.
Currently, according to the forest inventory of the Tuscany Region, the area in Lunigiana affected by chestnut as a forest, governed by both coppice and high forest, and as fruit chestnut, in production or abandoned, remains considerable and is estimated at around 20,000 ha.
The Chestnut in Lunigiana, widespread at all altitudes precisely because it was intensively cultivated in the past and also favored by the presence of silicate soils, has thus assumed great beekeeping importance. Bees frequent the chestnut during the flowering period which occurs in the months of June-July. A short but intense flowering, which yields large quantities of nectar to the bees.
The frequency of these two species in Lunigiana has therefore oriented beekeepers over time especially towards the production of Acacia and Chestnut honeys and of these two products we report the essential characteristics and the most important parameters resulting from the studies carried out by the University of Perugia .
In the four-year period 1990-93, samples of Chestnut Honey and Lunigiana Acacia Honey were studied through physical, chemical, organoleptic and melissopalinological analyzes; for both types of honey the study concludes:
The pollen composition is very characteristic and can be differentiated from that of acacia and chestnut honeys, already known, from other Italian regions;
They can be considered of excellent quality and produced in a practically non-polluted territory.
Chestnut Lunigiana honey remains liquid for a long time. It is therefore presented in this state throughout the period of marketing. However, it can show a very delayed and incomplete crystallization.
The color is dark amber, often with a reddish hue. The smell is strong and penetrating; the persistent flavor with a more or less pronounced bitter component and aftertaste with characters similar to those of the smell.
Physico-chemical and microscopic characteristics
In addition to the requirements established by the regulations in force, chestnut honey has the following characteristics:
- water content: not higher than 18%.
- hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content: not exceeding 10 mg / kg at the time of potting;
Physical - chemical characteristics
The peculiar chemical-physical characteristics of chestnut honey are highlighted in table no. 3 below. The most important parameters are indicated with an asterisk.
The honey sediment is rich in pollen. It belongs to the In-IV class of representativeness, always with a number of pollen grains higher than 100,000 / 10 g of honey, with an average of 300,000 gp / 10g
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The "Il Pungiglione" Cooperative has its roots in the Papa Giovanni XXIII Community Association, founded by Don Oreste Benzi and, since the beginning of its history, has focused on the quality of the products of the honey supply chain combined with the quality of the social recovery of disadvantaged people , especially those who come from the penitentiary system. The quality of the products is guaranteed by numerous certifications, certificates and awards and is obtained through particular attention to every single detail. The cooperative works organically the various bee products: honey, honeydew, royal jelly, wax and propolis. Recently, as regards the chestnut and acacia honeys produced in Lunigiana, the unique DOP recognition in Italy was obtained by the European Union.
With the cooperative il Pungiglione the Associazione Comunità Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII therefore demonstrates the possibility of making beekeeping a means of social reintegration, therapy and work.
The people in difficulty employed in Boceda come from various residential structures and in particular from the Casa Famiglia San Francesco di Castagnetoli, a reality that can accommodate about twenty people, including the couple's family who live constantly on the spot and guarantees human warmth to welcome and authority to support the development of individual potential. Rinascere is a project for the prevention and reduction of social hardship with good success rates, born thanks to the collaboration of volunteers and supported by local authorities.