The sweet chestnut was for a long time the potato of Ardèche.
The department is the biggest French producer, with 6,000 tonnes a year. An unequalled nutritional provision, it has forever been a base for both savoury and sweet dishes.
In the 19th century, when potatoes and other starchy foods from other regions of France became more readily available, the sweet dishes gained the upper hand. In 1882, Clément Faugier had the idea of industrially producing frozen chestnuts as well as products containing chestnuts such as chestnut puree, chestnuts in cognac, etc.
Nowadays the sweet chestnut is making a comeback in savoury dishes in the form of soup, like 'cousina', and gratins.
In 2006, the Ardèche sweet chestnut finally obtained its AOC label.
Around 5,000 tons are produced in the French department of Ardèche, accounting for 50% of the country's chestnut crop.© Judith Dzierzawa / 123RF
Dried chestnuts are produced by dehydrating the smallest of the fruit in a dryer for several days.© Gnohz / 123RF
The traditional chestnut varieties are Comballe, Bouche Rouge, Sardonne, Précoce des Vans, Pourette, Merle, Bouche de Clos, and Aguyane.© Fu Qiang / 123RF
Traditionally, sweet chestnuts are blanched in a cooking pot known as a 'Toupi'.© Judith Dzierzawa / 123RF