The Castanheira is a tree very respected by several indigenous tribes of the Amazon and is part of the culture of this town. The indigenous Cinta largo de Aripuanã tribe, for example, tells in its cosmology of origin the birth of children from a divine breath in the chestnut hedgehog.
Brazil nut, in addition to this immense cultural baggage, has become even more valuable as a source of income and work for the communities within the forest, which play a key role in the conservation of the region's forests. In this way, Brazil nut is not only a source of history and income, but also a means of environmental preservation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) created specifications for the standardization, classification and commercialization of Brazil nut in the domestic market in 1976. The nuts were separated into groups, subgroups, size classes and types.
The Brazil nut harvest is done daily, through the hedgehogs that fall from the chestnut trees, as this reduces the possibility of contamination by fungi and other microorganisms, since the high humidity of the forest propitiates this proliferation in hedgehogs that remain long on the ground.
Hedgehogs are heaped for later breakage. Often the hedgehogs are not cut on the same day and so they are left stacked in the forest, but without direct contact with the ground, in a jirau (wooden frame, similar to a drying table).
Generally, hedgehog cutting is done in the forest itself by hand, collectors use the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, boots, gloves and other protections and perform breaks on the ground with tarpaulins, clean bags or large banana leaves. Brazil Nuts with a different coloration, signs of mold or rancid are discarded.
The Brazil nuts are washed and a new selection is made, removing the chestnuts, rotten grains, and grains that float on the surface of the water.
The Brazil nuts are dried naturally, in jirais or on clean floors, frequently revolved to promote the aeration and accelerate the drying. In this step also another pre-selection takes place, removing the cracked and oil-stained chestnuts.
Then they are packed in clean sacks and stored in barracks and warehouses, until they are transported to industry to continue the beneficiation process.
The Brazil nuts are taken to a rotary dryer, which can rotate for up to 24 hours. This process enables the drying and removal of dirt still present in the product.
After drying, the chestnut goes through a new selection for the withdrawal of those that are cracked or out of the quality standards.
Batching identifies all those involved in the production, from the the collectors to the final product, to ensure the identification of any problem in the production chain.
In order to make it possible to remove its shell, it is necessary to carry out the process of cooking the brazil nut, in this way the almond is released from the shell and facilitate in the step of breaking the shell.
The smashing can be done mechanically, but it is also made with automatic equipment to peel off the brazil nuts and preserve almonds.
In the selection, they are separated according to size and shape (whole or broken), within the standards required by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA).
Here, the brazil nuts stay for about 16 hours in the oven to remove the moisture and become crunchy and are ready for consumption.
To keep product’s nutritional properties and freshness, he is vacuum packed in the standard 20 kg.