Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chestnuts

My dad planted these chestnut trees about 12 years ago.  They are still small trees but this year they had a bumper harvest.  I have heard of an old wives tale that says we are supposed to have a hard winter if the nut trees are really loaded.  I hope this is not the case.  The middle tree was so loaded with nuts that the branches were actually bending down from the weight. 


Chestnuts have a thorny outer shell to them.  When the nuts are ripe this thorny outer covering will split open allowing the nuts to fall off.  The nuts will then drop from the tree ready for us to gather up before the squirrels get to them.


Sometimes the nuts don't fall out of the thorny outer shell when it falls to the ground.  So you have to step on it with your shoe to split it open the rest of the way in order to free the nuts.  These thorns hurt when touched with your fingers!!


Once you have gathered all of your chestnuts you have to store them some how.  Well this is the first year I decided to gather up some chestnuts.  I have never tasted them so I peeled one right there under the tree and popped it in my mouth.  I was sold.  The taste was wonderful.  Now I had to figure out an easier way to peel the chestnuts from their leathery shell.  So to the Internet I went.  I had no idea how complicated the chestnut was.

Did you know that the chestnut is not like any other tree nut.  Most tree nuts you just gather them up and put in a bag and let dry out.  Chestnuts have to be removed from their shell and refrigerated or frozen.  Chestnuts have a high water and starch content.  They are perishable.  I found a great website that tells all about the chestnut and how to remove them from the shell and store them. It is called Chestnuts on line .  I was amazed to find out that chestnuts are very high in fiber and low fat.  Only 3.5 oz of chestnuts has more fiber in it than 2 slices of whole wheat bread.  I suggest to take a look at that website and find out all the great things about chestnuts!!

To store the chestnuts I decided to use the boil method and then froze them.  The website said that if you freeze them they can last up to a year.  They won't last more than a few weeks in the fridge!

Here are my chestnuts in a bowl.  My parents have several small buckets full.  I will have to let them know that they need to get them shelled and in the freezer or they will go bad.


I sliced them all in half.  You have to vent the chestnuts some how before heating them or they will explode.  You can either cut them in half or cut an X on them making sure you cut through the leathery shell.  I found it easy and quick to just cut them in half.  I layed them flat side down on a cutting board and cut them in half.



Now you can either lay them in a single layer in a baking pan to roast or boil them.  In order to store them for later use it was suggested to boil them.  So bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the chestnuts.  Boil for exactly 7 and a half minutes for large ones or 7 and a quarter minutes for small to medium ones. 


Drain them and start sliding them out of the shell. 

A lot of them fell out of the shell during the boiling process.  You need to get them out of the shell while they are still warm.  Once they cool down it is harder to get them out.  Most of mine  just popped right out when I picked them up.  When I got to the bottom of the pile they were getting cool and started to getter a little harder to get out of the shell.  They still were separated from the shell I just had to peel it back instead of sliding it right out.  So when I help my parents get there chestnuts stored I will suggest doing small batches at a time so they are still warm and slide out easily.


What is nice about the chestnut is you don't have a lot of waste in the shell.  This is the same bowl that I had the chestnuts in to start.  It is still almost full of chestnuts now that they are out of their shell.  Most nuts you have a huge shell and you get a tiny little nut out of it. 


I measured the chestnuts out and I had 1 lb 4oz of chestnuts.  So I vacuumed seal two 8oz bags of chestnuts and put them in the freezer.  The other 4 oz I put in a bag in the fridge to eat up!!  Yum!!  They are so good!!!





2 comments:

dr momi said...

Thank you for this....I have two chestnuts planted. Can't wait for the nuts!

Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms said...

How did I miss so many of your posts? That looks sooooo good! I wish chestnuts could grow here. I'm pretty sure they are not a zone 3. Still I enjoyed the post.