The hazel tree represented for the first nomad tribes an essential source of energy.
It was one of the first fruit-bearing trees cultivated by humans. At the beginning of the 19th Century, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte blocked exportations from England, and the cacao being among these exportations became very difficult to find and an expensive product.
For this reason, bakers from the city of Turin had to find an alternative to continue making their products so they decided to mix the cacao left with a type of hazelnut called ‘Nocciola Tonda Gentile Trilobata’, creating like this a new tasty product namely ‘Gianduja’.
In the middle of the two World Wars, the cultivation of the hazelnut spread across the ‘Langhe’ area, and thanks to professor Emanuele Ferraris who showed a passion for these nuts, it is known that the hazel tree is the hardiest and most lasting of all grapevines.
Characteristics of Piedmont Hazelnut PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) rank it among the most appreciated high-quality products in the world. Its main features include:
- A great quantity of the fruit is found when shelled
- Excellent flavour and aroma after toasting
- Easy shelling
- Fine and lasting taste
- It is low in fat so it can be kept well for long
Furthermore, amino acids essential to the human body, as well as vitamin E, are found in the nut. Besides, the percentage of lipids in a nut is 40%, including unsaturated fat such as oleic acid, and it has the highest monounsaturated/polyunsaturated ratio compared to other nuts. Recent studies show positive effects on human health in the regular consumption of nuts. Indeed, adding oleic acid to a diet keeps cholesterol in low blood levels.
As previously introduced, ‘Nocciola Tonda Gentile delle Langhe’ or ‘Nocciola Trilobata Piemonte’ is a type of hazelnut found in the area of low Piedmont, specifically, in the province of Cuneo, but it can also be found in the province of Asti and Alessandria, in those places between the hills of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato.
What immediately catches the eye when you pick up a Tonda Gentile del Piemonte Hazelnut is its very thin but hard shell, which protects a large, spherical and regular fruit wrapped in an external film (the perisperm) which is also very thin and easy to remove. Its main characteristic is the fact that it has lower fat content than other hazelnut families and this makes the rancidity processes slower making it perfect for the preservation and transforming it into a food that, if eaten regularly, helps to keep ‘bad cholesterol’ at low levels in the blood and to raise ‘good cholesterol’ instead, favouring the protection of cell membranes.
Vitamin E contained within it is also significant and is a natural antioxidant that slows down tissue ageing. Tasting it immediately brings you to appreciate its fabulous and famous aroma after roasting.
Piedmont hazelnut is known as the best in the world. The Tonda Gentile Hazelnut carries the PGI denomination, which guarantees and certifies not only its quality but also its absolute authenticity.