Fructus, the Swiss Association for the Protection of Fruit Heritage, has named the "Lüina" chestnut as ‘Swiss fruit of the year’.
For centuries, chestnuts were an important source of basic food for the survival of people in the southern Alps, Fructus stated. Over time, growing chestnut trees became a more complex activity, drawing on several varieties. One of these is the "Lüina", which has been grown in the Val Mesolcina in canton Graubunden and in canton Ticino since the 13th century.
The variety is well-liked and quite hardy. Over time it has adapted to growing in often steep places at altitudes of 300 to 1,000 metres. The fruit is quite small, aromatic and sweet. It comes easily out of its skin and is good for grilling, the association states.
Despite initiatives to promote chestnut growing, the tradition is being abandoned, and the trees are also threatened by fungal diseases. Many varieties -there are currently 102 varieties in Switzerland- have already disappeared.
The "Lüina" and some other varieties are reproduced in cantonal schools of forestry, says Fructus, but they have difficulty competing with large southern varieties imported from the south that are often served as hot chestnuts.