The chestnut of the priest between legend and tradition

A product of excellence, symbol of a territory, that of Ospedaletto D’Alpinolo: it is the priest’s chestnut. Let’s discover together legend and tradition.

castagna del prete

Ospedaletto D’Alpinolo is a town in the province of Avellino, from where the history of our company originated, which is located at about 720 meters above sea level and has always been a crossroads for pilgrims who go from Mamma Schiavona to Montevergine. The locals have always offered people on pilgrimage the products of their own territory, among which the chestnuts that pilgrims used to buy for refreshment during the journey stand out. The festival in October is dedicated to the chestnut, which takes place in the historic center of Ospedaletto d’Alpinolo, during which “the priest’s chestnut” is celebrated, which tradition attributes to the gastronomic skills of the Irpinia priests. These are top quality chestnuts, selected by size, which require a production process that is as traditional as it is specific.

The legend of the priest’s chestnut

But why is this type of chestnut called “the priest’s”? The name derives from the fact that in ancient times the monks from Irpinia produced them. But a more romantic and imaginative legend hides behind the exquisite chestnut of the priest. It is said, in fact, that one day a local priest received many chestnuts as a gift and that to transport them home he loaded his mule. The animal, however, burdened with a heavy weight and perhaps mishandled by the elderly monk, tripped over a river, pouring all the chestnuts into the water. The priest was not discouraged by the mockery of the village: he returned home and put the chestnuts and dried them in an oven thus created the tasty recipe which takes the name of “priest’s chestnut”.

Priest’s chestnut production process

Indeed, however imaginative, this legend offers the explanation of the priest’s chestnut production process that is still followed today. In fact, the freshly harvested chestnuts are moist due to the high water content and for this reason they are dried inside the “grates” (constantly heated structures) for ten days. The next step, according to the Irpinia tradition, wants the chestnuts, now dry, toasted in very hot ovens. The chestnuts, thus obtained, are then rehydrated: in fact, they are immersed in water until they become soft again. The chestnuts, treated in this way, are characterized by specific sensory notes, to the taste and smell, and a soft consistency.

Have you already tried our priest’s chestnuts? You can find them here. Let yourself be conquered by the sweetness.

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