Boil chestnuts in salted water with anise and cumin seeds; it brings out their flavor.
Set in the Irpinia mountains in the province of Naples, Montella chestnuts (PGI) grow above ancient castles and in fairytale gardens in the evocative and magical town of Montella. These sweet, crunchy chestnuts have very light flesh, and are one of the most delicious and highly prized varieties in Italy. The harvest begins in early October and can go on for 20–30 days. Montella chestnuts are highly nutritious and contain complex sugars and minerals, so they’re especially recommended for young people and athletes. Every year, the town of this chestnut’s origins manages to attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Their long shelf life, richness and fragrance mean this product is used in 2 main ways: either eaten fresh, or shelled and dried. However, the most popular way to prepare them is in the style “del prete” (of the priest). Essentially, they’re dried over wood dryers called ‘gratali’ which remove water and give them a smoky flavor. The name ‘del prete’ comes from the capuchin monks who came up with this drying method many years ago. They also make a great cakes and liqueur.
Did you know
Every year between November and December, there’s a festival for the Montella chestnut. For the last 35 years, this unique event has been celebrating the product in all its forms. There are culinary tours, concerts, theater shows, cooking classes and excursions to learn about where they grow and how to pick them — all to promote them better.