Capranica Prenestina Mosciarella

Slow Food Presidium

Italy

Lazio

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

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Capranica Prenestina Mosciarella

Capranica Prenestina is a small mountain village on the ridge of the Prestini Mountains, it is surrounded by woods and chestnut groves that have been there for many centuries.
Already mentioned by Cato in his book, "De agri cultura", the chestnuts from the Prenestini Mountains have played a very important role in the sustenance of the local people for centuries. The first strong push to actually cultivate chestnuts in the area dates back to the Middle Ages, thanks to the stimulus given by the Countess Matilde di Canossa. The statutes of the two municipalities where the production area lies (drawn up in different eras, the first dates back to 1200) show how chestnuts were held in very high regard: the use of chestnut groves (for fruit and wood) was carefully regulated, and there were penalties for those who were responsible for any damage or theft.
The chestnut forest extends along the north-east side of the Prenestini Mountains, the “coldest” area, and is distributed between 420 to 700 meters above sea level. The soil is calcareous and clayey in the superficial layers: this is the so-called red terrain where chestnut trees have historically found their home.

The fruits are small and have an elongated shape, pointed apex and a dark colour with lighter shades towards the hilum, which is small in size. They have a sweet taste, and the thin inner skin is easily removed. In the Capranica Prenestina area, it is common practice to combine all the chestnuts and dry them in order preserve them: this is a long process, from which the so-called “mosciarelle” are obtained. The drying takes place in the “casette” (little houses), small stone rooms found in the woods. These are two superimposed rooms, with dry stone walls and a roof which consists of a wooden structure that is covered with brick tiles. The floor is made of limestone slabs and, between the floor and the ceiling, at a height of about 2 meters, a grate (“arate”) is arranged, this structure is formed by straw and that rests on crossbars.
After the chestnuts are harvested, which takes place from October to December, they are spread out on the trellis floor (on the upper floor of the houses) to form a uniform layer that is about 70 centimetres deep and they are then smoked for about a month. The smoke is made by burning the branches that are pruned from the chestnut trees and “spulla” (the remains of the chestnut peels from the previous year). The heat and smoke reach the chestnuts, which dehydrates them, this step also has an antimicrobial function, and it gives the fruits a delicate smoky aroma. At the end, the chestnuts are pushed out through a hole at the base of the racks, and they are then beaten, this step separate the fruit from the dry skin.
Traditionally in this area they are eaten boiled in water or milk or in legume or pork soups, which leaves a hint of their delicate sweetness and a slight smoky flavour. Mosciarella can also be ground to make flour, which is an ingredient that is used in sweets and various types of pasta.

Season


Mosciarelle are dred in the months of October to December and are available for consumption all year round

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In recent decades, as in many other small villages in the Alps, the strong depopulation has led to the abandonment of the houses and land of Capranica Prenestina. Many chestnut growers have gone out of business and gone to live elsewhere. The value of the natural attributes of this area and its landscape is the result of the balance between the natural dynamics of the forest and its careful management which, despite depopulation, has never completely ceased. In 2011 a recovery process began, accompanied by the regional recognition of the 166 hectares of Castagneto Prenestino as a Natural Monument. Thanks to some chestnut growers, who have preserved the knowledge related to the management of the chestnut groves (pruning, cleaning of the undergrowth, grafting and drying practice in the houses) it was possible to start a Presidium that sees the commitment of a community of producers, cooks, public bodies and local inhabitants. A local mill grinds the chestnuts to make flour and, shortly, a beer will be made by recovering the scraps of the screening.

The Presidium also intends to continue the conservation of the unique landscape - which in 2021 received a Mention in the National Landscape Award - carrying out the census of monumental chestnut trees and the conservation of the chestnut ecosystem. It also wants to encourage the development of sustainable tourism, and is interested in discovering the paths that have been restored in the chestnut groves, chestnut-based specialties and local cuisine that is characterised by the use of this fruit in various forms.

Production Area
Municipalities of Capranica Prenestina and San Vito Romano (Metropolitan City of Rome)

Producers


Loris Pergolini
Via di Palestrina, 3
Capranica Prenestina (Rm)
Tel. +39 334 7373492
loris.prg@gmail.com

Società Agricola Agromnia
Via di Guadagnolo km 3,0
Capranica Prenestina (Rm)
Tel. +39 324 8437089
info@agromniagricola.it
Producer Representative
Loris Pergolini
Tel.+39 334 7373492
loris.prg@gmail.com

In recent decades, as in many other small villages in the Alps, the strong depopulation has led to the abandonment of the houses and land of Capranica Prenestina. Many chestnut growers have gone out of business and gone to live elsewhere. The value of the natural attributes of this area and its landscape is the result of the balance between the natural dynamics of the forest and its careful management which, despite depopulation, has never completely ceased. In 2011 a recovery process began, accompanied by the regional recognition of the 166 hectares of Castagneto Prenestino as a Natural Monument. Thanks to some chestnut growers, who have preserved the knowledge related to the management of the chestnut groves (pruning, cleaning of the undergrowth, grafting and drying practice in the houses) it was possible to start a Presidium that sees the commitment of a community of producers, cooks, public bodies and local inhabitants. A local mill grinds the chestnuts to make flour and, shortly, a beer will be made by recovering the scraps of the screening.

The Presidium also intends to continue the conservation of the unique landscape - which in 2021 received a Mention in the National Landscape Award - carrying out the census of monumental chestnut trees and the conservation of the chestnut ecosystem. It also wants to encourage the development of sustainable tourism, and is interested in discovering the paths that have been restored in the chestnut groves, chestnut-based specialties and local cuisine that is characterised by the use of this fruit in various forms.

Production Area
Municipalities of Capranica Prenestina and San Vito Romano (Metropolitan City of Rome)

Producers


Loris Pergolini
Via di Palestrina, 3
Capranica Prenestina (Rm)
Tel. +39 334 7373492
loris.prg@gmail.com

Società Agricola Agromnia
Via di Guadagnolo km 3,0
Capranica Prenestina (Rm)
Tel. +39 324 8437089
info@agromniagricola.it
Producer Representative
Loris Pergolini
Tel.+39 334 7373492
loris.prg@gmail.com

Territory

StateItaly
RegionLazio