CHESTNUT TOUR (BRAZIL NUTS)
The chestnut, also known as the Brazil nut. Bertholletia excelsa is a tree of the Lecythidaceae family, native to South America, endemic to the Amazon, specifically Bolivia, Brazil, southeastern Colombia, Guyana, Peru and southern Venezuela. Its seeds are edible and have several names: Brazilian hazelnut, Brazilian chestnut, Brazilian coquito, Amazon nut, Bolivian nut, Brazil nut, Pará chestnut and mountain chestnut.
It is a native species found in significant concentrations in the Amazon of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, where it grows in natural stands in Madre de Dios. Our forests are home to a great wealth of foods with high emblematic value such as the Amazon chestnut, which is a native species found in significant concentrations. In fact, Amazonian chestnuts are classified as a superfood due to their great nutritional richness, their high protein level and the healthy fats they contain. The tree from which the chestnut seed comes can reach 50 meters in height and can live approximately 1000 years.
Madre de Dios is the only area in Peru that has chestnut trees in sufficient concentrations for their use. This product has even been considered one of the flagship products of the region.
The fruits of chestnut trees are coconuts with a diameter between 10 and 15 cm, inside which chestnuts (their seeds) grow, wrapped in a hard, woody shell. There are approximately 18-20 chestnuts in each coconut.
The chestnut is the only species in the world nut market that is not cultivated, but grows spontaneously in the forest and, being a forest resource that is only collected, keeps the tree standing and promotes its conservation; Brazil nut forests being the largest carbon capturers.
Therefore, whoever is dedicated to this activity, carries out wild collection work: between December and March, during the rainy season, the chestnut trees move to live in the camps that they themselves build and travel through large areas in search of of fallen coconuts.
HARVESTING AMAZON CHESTNUT
In Madre de Dios, the producers of the Tambopata Chestnut Growers Association carry out, as their main task, the extraction of chestnuts, this being an important forest resource that is collected using payana, which is the material used by chestnut producers to extract the seeds from the tallest trees. This selective process keeps the tree standing and promotes forest conservation.
Every day, during the harvest season, the chestnut trees enter the forest, collect the fruits that have fallen to the ground and begin the arduous task of extracting the chestnuts from the coconuts, which they market as part of a sustainable activity that serves as livelihood for thousands of families in the Amazon jungle of Peru. Harvesting seasons are between the months of November and March.
They collect the coconuts, open them and place the chestnuts in the bags. Finally, they take the bags to a processing plant in Puerto Maldonado, capital of the region, where the peeling and selection process of the nuts continues, guaranteeing traceability from the forest to the sale.
At Ecolucerna Lodge Tambopata we offer you the opportunity to see and participate in this process as well as to be able to taste this delicious food, which can be consumed in many ways such as raw, with skin, without skin, toasted, salty or tasteless. They are an excellent topping for salads, smoothies, ice creams, kekes, among many other options and preparations.