The chestnut

Patrimony is not only a question of manmade buildings. Food is a very important deal for the people of Aveyron and there are a lot of local specialties that are worth trying!

The chestnut tree can reach up to 15 to 25 meters high. It loses its foliage during winter.

The site of Rignac has been chosen as a conservation, a study and a promotion site of the oldest Chestnut species in the Midi-Pyrénées region. Thanks to the hard work of passionate volunteers who decided to make an inventory of all those species in the Aveyron department. They created, thanks to the help of the department, the city of Rignac and the CC of Rignac Countryside, the Regional Chestnut Conservatory.

 

 

Until the nineteenth century, the Chestnut occupied the major part of the department. We could find around 60'000 ha of those planted trees in our region. But, the changes of the society and the agricultural world at his time narrowed the production. It shrank to 5'000 ha. Because of the mechanization of agriculture, the potatoes culture and the tannin extraction, the Chestnut cultivation was gradually abandoned.

The Association saved different species of these trees in a local orchard where around 70 varieties are studied, compared, measured, which gives us a better understanding, in order to protect better.

Inside a former farming site, this place became in 1995 a protective orchard composed by :

. One arboretum

. 3 sweet chestnuts orchards : one is a terrace for hybrid species. The two last parcels are composed by 60 traditional species.

. There is also an apple-tree plantation which is used for making apple juice.

. A botanical path presenting the flora and the landscapes of the Segala Region

How to cook the chestnut...

There are so many ways to cook them, this diversity is unsuspectingly large! But before cooking them, you have to chose them wisely.

In order to do that, you have to chose the mature ones. Make sure they are full. The shell has to be attached to the fruit. They should not look dry. Try to seek any hole in the shell. A hole may indicate that the fruit has already been visited by a worm. Finally, as a final advise, one you are home, if you want to be sure you can cook these Sweet Chestnuts put them in the water. The ones going up to the surface have some air inside and can not be cooked. You can throw them away.

Then, you have to take the shell off the fruit by peeling them. There are two solutions to do so:

  • Peeling with a knife: you have to incise them on the bombed part of the Sweet Chestnuts up to the second skin. Then, put them in boiling water for maximum five minutes. Do not forget to put some oil in order to soften the skin. Finally, you can remove this second skin to start cooking.

  • Peeling with a micro-wave: obviously, it is not the way our elders used to do it... It is a way more modern way do it. First, you have to take off the first skin. Then, place them in a micro-wave oven for one minute (maximum temperature). Then, you roll them between your hands and the Sweet Chestnuts' skin will go away.

Once, you have peeled your Sweet Chestnuts, you have a large choice for cooking them : dessert, salty cake, soup, stuffing,... It is up to you to chose the form you like the most!

Omelette aux châtaignes :

Pour 4 personnes.

. 8 oeufs

. 2 oignons

. 2 cuillères à soupe de crème épaisse

. 1 cuillère à soupe d'eau

. 1 cuillère à soupe de beurre

. 12 châtaignes

. Sel et poivre

Emincez les oignons et les faire fondre avec le beurre dans une casserolle.

Rajoutez un demi verre d'eau quand les oignons deviennent transparents.

Salez et poivrez et laissez réduire jusqu'à l'évaporation de l'eau.

Vous pouvez commencer à émietter les châtaignes et à les faire revenir avec un peu de beurre.

Dans un récipient, battez les œufs avec la crème fraîche. Salez et poivrez.

Versez dans une poêle beurrée les œufs pour éparpiller les oignons et châtaignes.

Retournez-la et lorsqu'elle est à votre goût, servez-la aussitôt.

Cake aux châtaignes et aux courgettes

Ingrédients (pour 8 personnes)

50g de farine de châtaignes

130 g de châtaignes au naturel

3 œufs

100g de farine de blé

1 sachet de levure chimique

1 cuillère à soupe d’huile de tournesol

125 ml de crème liquide

100g de gruyère râpé

200g de picodon

1 courgette

2 cuill. à soupe d’huile d’olive

Quelques brins de persil

Sel, poivre

 

Allumer le four à thermostat 6. Faire revenir les châtaignes au naturel, que vous aurez préalablement émiettées et la courgette, coupée en petits dés dans une poêle avec l’huile d’olive. Egoutter sur du papier absorbant. Tamiser et mélanger les deux farines. Dans un saladier, fouetter les œufs, le mélange de farines et la levure. Ajouter l’huile de tournesol et la crème liquide que vous aurez préalablement chauffée dans une casserole. Mélanger. Ajouter les châtaigne au naturel, la courgette, le picodon coupé en dés, le persil, le gruyère, le sel et le poivre. Continuer à mélanger. Verser dans un moule à cake beurré. Faire cuire 45 minutes. Accompagner d’une salade.