The montainous region of Ardèche, in the South East of France, is the first area of production for chestnut in France, with 50% of the French production. This specific chestnut received in 2000 the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. The chestnut groves spread over more than 5000 hectares of steep slopes, divided in 172 towns, and produce an average of 5000 tones of fruits a year, 40% of which is exported. If the chestnut provides employment and earnings in more than 1000 farms, this cultivation is also ecologically friendly. Trees are not phytosanitary cured and the chestnut groves help to maintain the countryside, avoiding soils’ erosion and propagation of fires.
Ardèche Chestnut AOC can be found in many kinds: desiccated, plain or crushed, sterilized, cooked in purée, or in flour. In France, chestnuts are traditionally served for the end of the year celebrations, plain or mashed, with poultry such as turkey or guinea fowl. But chestnut can also be used in many original ways. Its flour is perfect to create recipes as breads or pancakes. In purée or in flour, it can be added to chocolate cakes to revitalize this old classic. At last, one can taste chestnut mousse or the sweet Mont-Blanc, a mix of chestnut cream and whipped cream.
Comité Interprofessionnel de la Châtaigne d’Ardèche (CICA)
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Pictures : CICA/M. Rissoan