Walter Scott, the Scottish writer and poet once remarked, “It is wonderful what strength of purpose and boldness and energy of will are roused by the assurance that we are doing our duty“.
These words gave inspiration to the members of Ciavolino Daniele e Figli Napoli Srl, a company founded in 1950 when grandfather Daniele, with great passion and dedication, set up his business in Torre del Greco to harvest and process pine cones in the area around Mount Vesuvius. Today the business is run by his grandchildren, Daniele Santo and Luana, and boasts consolidated experience in buying pine cones and processing them to obtain pine nuts.
The pine nut is the seed of the domestic pine (Pinus Pinea), an iconic tree of the Italian landscape, so much so that it is known in the English-speaking world as the Italian Stone Pine. Of great longevity, which can be up to centuries old, the pine begins to produce seeds only after about 15 years and each plant produces only about 1kg of pine nuts per season, which is why pine nuts are among the most expensive nuts on the market.
In the past, the harvesting of pine cones was a difficult and very dangerous operation as the pickers actually used to climb up the pine trees using hooks on their feet, ropes and harnesses. Today the harvest is still done manually but mainly with the aid of mechanical elevators. There are still some businesses where it is still possible to observe and take part in the traditional harvest as a way of keeping alive the memory of a craft, that of the pine nut harvester, which has touched the lives of many generations.
After harvesting, the processing involves the extraction of pine nuts from the pine cone, shelling and sorting. The pine cones are heated so that they soften and to encourage them to open up, which then makes it possible to separate the pine cone from the pine nuts in their shells. It is interesting to note that some companies use the woody part of production waste to feed their heaters or sell it as biomass for energy production.