Pieve dei Santi Giovanni ed Ermolao
- 7 May 2021
- Activ holidays, Holiday, holiday with children, Holiday with pet, Italian life, towns, visit Tuscany
One of the symbols of autumn on the Tuscan Apennine is certainly the chestnut tree and the harvest of its fruits. Walking through the chestnut groves you may find small buildings called “Metato”, or ruins of it.
What is a Metato?! A Metato is a small stone house that can only be found in the chestnut forest, where chestnuts are dried using traditional methods.
The building is usually divided into two rooms, the upper and the lower part. In the upper one there is a wicker floor made of Venchi (i.e. wooden sticks). In the lower one a chestnut wood fire. The fire remains weak and smolders for about a month while the chestnuts are placed in the upper part to dry after the harvest.
To check the state of dryness, they place 4 fresh chestnuts on sticks in the corners of the Metato. By checking these “spies” they can see when the entire crop is dry, usually after around 30 days.
Ten days before the end, the chestnuts are turned, which means that the chestnuts are repositioned. Those that were lower get higher and vice versa to ensure that the drying is homogeneous.
Traditionally, the Venchi have been moved, the chestnuts have been rotated by dropping the last layer and then repositioning it on top of the other.
Today, they are not dropped, but a ditch is made in the middle of the chestnuts, which makes them easier to turn and makes them turn like the undertow of a wave.
After making sure the chestnuts are dry and ready, you need to peel them. In the past, farmers called this stage pistatura and did it manually. They put 10/15 kg of chestnuts in sacks and hit them on a tree stump, then the women cleaned them completely by hand.
To the joy of farmers today there is a machine that does this process and is called Battitura. After the machine, the chestnuts are rolled out again to be selected by hand. The rejects are removed, those that are rotten inside and those that are particularly “beautiful” are set aside. They are then put back into the machine to make them completely clean.
At this point they are brought into the mill and made into flour. That can be prepared in the houses or at the Tuscan village festivals. The “beautiful” ones stay whole to be eaten or to make roasted chestnuts.
Unfortunately, the metato is used less and less and many choose the industrial route. For this we thank even more the “Azienda Agricola La Capannina” and “Bravi Andrea & C. s.a.s.” for keeping the Tuscan production and traditions alive and also for documenting us about the production that is associated with this special building!
In addition to chestnuts, the Bravi Family produces a lot more, everything real and 100% Tuscan quality. We strongly recommend you buy and try their products on your next trip to Tuscany!
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