Chestnut fruit of Terra Fria of Trás-os-Montes (Portugal)
Characteristics of the chestnuts: Nuts obtained from the chestnut tree (Castanea sativa Mill) of the Longal, Judia, Côta, Amarelal, Lamela, Aveleira, Boa Ventura, Trigueira, Martaínha and Negral varieties. The chestnuts show an elongated, elliptic form, with a shining reddish-brown color with dark, long lines. They have an intense flavor.
Method of production: The production of chestnuts is made with very little external production factors – only fertilizers, given that phytosanitary treatments are not common practice. The cultivation is made mainly in orchards under spontaneous or sown vegetable covers, very rich in fauna and flora. The nuts are harvested directly from the floor (manually or mechanically) after maturation is complete.
History: The chestnut tree is one of the main fruit trees that grow in this region and has always been important for the survival of the local rural population, being today not just a source of food but also of great support to the local economy.
Area of production: in the region (Alfândega da Fé, Bragança, Chaves, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Mirandela, Valpaços, Vimioso and Vinhais, in the districts of Vila Real and Bragança), small producers are most common, with some companies of a bigger dimension also in existence. In total, there are about 44 000 chestnut acres, with bigger predominance in Bragança, Vinhais, Valpaços and Macedo de Cavaleiros.
Area of organic production: The number of farms with chestnut trees producing organically is relatively small (1980 acres), although there also exist about 1200 chestnut acres converting to organic production.
Volume of production: the region is responsible for about 85% of the chestnut production in Portugal, which means that the region of Terra Fria in Trás-os-Montes produces between 34 and 38 000 tons of chestnuts.
Characteristics of the market: about 40% of the chestnut production is meant for the fresh products market (non-processed chestnuts) in Portugal or in foreign countries (Spain, France, Brazil, Italy Canada, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, with the first three being the biggest clients). In the remaining 60% of chestnut production, a part is meant for exportation to France, Italy and Spain for industrial processing; the other part is processed by the Portuguese agroindustry.
Processed products and marketing of the chestnut: There are a few agro-industrial units of relevancy in Portugal (Alcido Nunes, Agroaguiar, Monsurgel, Sortegel, etc.), that process chestnuts, mainly through peeling and freezing (a small part of these are marketed in Portugal, while the bigger remaining part is exported to Europe and other continents). The rest is processed into chestnut flour (a product growing in popularity) or into other chestnut-based products.
In the months of autumn (harvesting period), a little all over the chestnut-growing regions, there are a lot of fairs and events dedicated to the chestnut. In these events, the chestnut, raw or processed, is promoted. Also, almost all over the country, the chestnut is sold on the streets (roasted chestnuts sold by street vendors) as well as in traditional stores, markets, supermarkets, etc. Besides that, there are specialized stores, such as the “MARRON Oficina da Castanha: https://marron.pt/”, that only targets chestnut-based products.