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Chestnut Honey

Sweet Chestnut Blossom

The chestnut tree belongs to the same family as beeches and oaks. For thousands of years the chestnut was a primary source of nutrition in the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean where grains did not grow well. The primary honey producer, the sweet chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) is common in Europe where it was introduced from Sardis (in what is now Turkey) thousands of years ago, hence the name Sardinian Nut, now known simply as the chestnut…not to be confused with Sardinian honey, so called because it is produced on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Although not a nectar-producer, the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), a native species of the United States, once grew so densely it was said a squirrel could jump from tree to tree without once touching the ground between New York State and Georgia. In an ecological disaster, close to 4 billion trees in the Eastern United States were wiped out in the early 1900’s by a blight. Efforts to create a hybrid resistant to the blight are ongoing. Fortunately the Sweet Chestnut has shown resistance to the blight and as a happy consequence we are able to enjoy chestnut honey from these nectar-producing trees.

Chestnut Honey

Chestnut honey has a strong aromatic taste and a slightly bitter after taste. Rich in pollen content, mineral salts and tannin, with a high proportion of fructose that resists crystallization and a relatively low acidity. Dark in color, ranging from yellowish brown to almost black, sometimes with amber hues, it has an aromatic, pungent herbal aroma and taste and slightly tannic (due to the tannin in the tree). The flavor is unique, not very sweet and with an almost bitter aftertaste and very persistent, highly appreciated by those who like a strong, less sweet honey. Blossoms from May to June.

It is excellent with aged cheeses (Stracchino, Ricotta) or hearty meat dishes. Or try it the Tuscan way; drizzled over a piece of Pecorino Toscano with some fresh pears.

Chestnuts (C. Sativa)


Of the common species of Chestnut trees, the Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) grown mainly in Europe produces honey, and the Allegheny Chinkapin (C. pumila) grown in Eastern USA produces a strong and bitter honey.

In Asia, the Japanese Chestnut (C. crenata) grown mainly in S. Korea is a source of honey. The Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissima), Henry Chinkapin (C. Henryi), Sequin (C. Seguiniii) are grown in China and may be sources of honey.

Two chestnuts are not members of the same family at all, the Horse Chestnut or Conkers (Aesculus hippocastanum) which grows around the temperate world and is not edible, and Water Chestnuts (Family Cyperaceae) an aquatic vegetable grown in China. Neither are related to Castanea chestnut trees.

Festivals: Italy has the most Chestnut festivals, but it is also celebrated in France, Greece, Switzerland and the USA.
In Italy, in early Autumn, many fairs and festivals can be found in Italy celebrating the chestnut, which was for centuries one of the main nutrients of the people. Enjoy the amenities of the country, be prepared to taste delicious chestnuts in soups, pastas, stuffings, stews and desserts, in dishes ranging from ravioli to ciacci (small, stuffed pancakes made from chestnut flour) to biscottini di Marroni (chestnut cookies).  And for the gourmet; gnocchi, cotechino, sausages and other typical products, including regional wines. Perhaps music, dances and songs.  And all the while, learning about the medieval villages, where you can visit beautiful regions and towns while sampling chestnuts and of course, fabulous Chestnut honey!

Latin Name: Sweet or Spanish Chestnut (Castanea sativa), Allegheny Chinkapin (Castanea pumila), Japanese Chestnut (Castenea crenata)
[Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissimai), Henry Chinkapin (C. Henryii), Sequin (C. Seguinii) may be sources of honey but not confirmed]

Translations: Italian: Miele di castagno; Turkey: Kestane balı; France: Miel de châtaignier; Germany: Kastanienhonig; Spain: Miel de castaño; Greece: Το μέλι καστανιάς; Albania: Mjaltë gështenjë; Japanese Chestnut (Castenea crenata – 日本栗 – ri ben li); Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissima – 板栗 – li); Henry Chinkapin (C. Henryi – 锥栗 – zhui li); Sequin (C. Seguinii – 茅栗 – mao li)

Sources: Main: Albania, China, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France; Secondary: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece

Health Benefits: Rich in trace minerals and iron, vitamins B and C, Chestnut Honey strengthens muscles, blood circulation, regulating, liver and stomach, relieving fatigue, strengthens the immune system. Chestnut Honey brings positive effects to the respiratory and digestive systems.

Protected Geographical Status (PGS) framework (PDO/PGI) – EU:

Italy – Lunigiana (Tuscany): Chestnut honey is harvested at the end of June and beginning of July (DOP – Italian version of PDO). Along with the DOP certification, it must indicate the town where it was produced: Aulla, Bagnone, Casola in Lunigiana, Comano, Filattiera, Fivizzano, Fosdinova, Licciana Nardi, Mulazzo, Podenzana, Pontremoli, Tresana, Villafranca in Lunigiana, or Zeri.


Spain – Miel de Galicia (NW Spain): Chestnut honey occurs primarily in the provinces of Lugo and Ourense (including the regions of A Fonsagrada, A Ulloa, Ancares, O Courel, The Sierras of Manzaneda, San Mamede and Invernadeiro, the valley of the Sil, O Bolo, and Valdeorras). The province of Pontevedra’s main production area is Deza and the Terra de Montes.


Spain – Miel de Granada (S Spain) Chestnut honey occurs in the Province of Granada. Beekeepers migrate their hives within the province as necessary to collect chestnut nectar.

Photo Credit (chestnut blossoms): Iris Lisson

14 comments to Chestnut Honey

  • A.Oscar

    Why we humans learn just about every day; I’m over seventy years old, and from the country which having chestnut’s Portugal, never new be honey made from chestnuts, and from what I read to be very healthy. A.Oscar

  • kamer gjikokaj

    Hi,it is best honey in the world after manuka honey.I am very interesting for chestnuts honey.

  • Yes, for the past 10 years many bee-keepers in the north of Portugal are installing their hives in the vicinities of the sweet chestnut orchards. This not only helps the pollination due to the bees but also brings high quality to the honey produced by these bees. There are also three important festivals in Portugal every November:
    “Festa do Castanheiro e da Castanha” in Marvão, where you can also be a witness of the biggest “Magusto” of our planet.
    “Rural Castanea” in Vinhais, with the “Biggest Chestnut-roasting Oven in the World”.
    “Feira da Castanha” in Carrazedo de Montenegro, capital of the sweet chesnut in Tras-os-Montes region.
    Please feel free to visit http://www.filipe.com to find everything about sweet chestnuts.

  • Serdar AKIN

    we produce organic chesnut honey in north of turkey. and i can say it s absolutely so healty also antioxidan..

  • HI Carlos:

    Thanks for the information. I hope to visit one of these festivals and enjoy fresh chestnut honey in Portugal someday!

    … Scott

  • Hi Serdar:

    My son and his wife gave some chestnut honey (Kestane Bali) to me from their trip to Turkey not so long ago. I still have a little left! It is delicious.

    …Scott

  • Serdar AKIN

    Hi Scott,

    I m sure you enjoy it. and i d like to send you our honey too for testing..

    keep in touch!

    serdarakin57@gmail.com

  • Kimbo

    Does anyone know how many chestnut trees per say an orchard for example you need to satisfy the bees to collect chestnut honey. Our orchard is surrounded by native fauna and speaking to a local beekeeper in New Zealand here, it would seem the bees might prefer to go further afield to the Manuka rather than be satisfied with the chestnut trees. We currently have about 13 acres of chestnut trees with over a thousand trees.

  • Priya

    Hi Scott,

    I’m a videographer working with Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. I’m currently building an educational YouTube channel on non-timber forest products and honey is actually considered to be one of those products. I was wondering if you knew of any apiaries in the Eastern U.S. that managed their bees solely on pollen from forests (chestnuts/black locusts etc)… I’m hoping to add videos featuring forest-based apiaries on our channel. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much!

  • Hi Priya:

    If you mean from blossoms on trees, then Linden (Basswood) honey is quite popular. You can try the folks at http://www.tremblayapiaries.com/, they produce Linden honey. Try searching for “linden honey” on Google. A local source for me is from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. They have a large stand of Linden tree and have a beekeeper to with his hives nearby. They sell their linden honey through their gift shop.

    If you mean from honeydew from aphids living on trees, you are likely to find You have your work cut out for you! This is honeydew honey or forest honey. It is very popular in Europe and other countries, but not popular in North America. It is actually commonly found in honey produced here, as long as the bees can travel to any forest that has aphids, but seldom makes up a large percentage of the honey. Even if it did, the beekeepers aren’t aware of what it is. I sometimes hear from beekeepers of a honey that was darker than usual. That is a good clue that the bees found a good source of honeydew-producing aphids. But it is still sold as regular (dark) honey. I always have my ear open for word of someone producing a fairly pure honeydew honey here, but unfortunately I haven’t heard of anything. Perhaps someone will see your post and respond!

    If you do hear of a source, please let me know. I would love to try some, and I am sure others would too.

    One clarification. Bees produce honey from the nectar produced by the blossoms of thetrees, or from the honeydew produced by aphids living on trees, but honey is not produced from pollen. The pollen is eaten by the bees and is a vital source of protein.

    …Scott

  • Bari

    What’s the best site to buy Chestnut Honey from??

    Thanks!!

  • kamer

    hi, the best chestnut honey is hrom croatia,the company name: medoflor

  • My name, Baines Greene, l and I am interested in ordering some Honeys , And if you can please list me with some few type you got in stock with there prices or you can send me your web site to view the type you got in stock.If i may know what type of credit card do you take as Payment waiting thank you..

    I Look forward to hear from you soon

  • Baines:

    I am sorry but I don’t supply honey. Perhaps a supplier will contact you!

    …Scott

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