Chestnut

Introduction

The chestnut you’ll encounter in our area are likely Chinese chestnuts. They’re cousins to the storied American chestnut that may someday rise again to play a significant role in our forests. Until then though, we’re excited about the Chinese chestnut, a veritable bread tree, producing big yields of starchy nuts year after year.

Identification

Spikey hulls, full of chestnuts

Sawtooth-like leaves

Here’s a Chestnut.

Use

Eating cooked, dried and milled into flour

Where you’ll find them

Well drained soil on varied sites, usually cultivated

Harvest and Handling

You’ll want to get the nuts out of the hulls before picking them up. The best trees will drop the nut out of the hull before the hull drops to the ground, but those turn out to be somewhat rare. We have found that the best way to get the nuts separated from the hull is to wear heavy boots and stop the hulls til the nut pop outs.

The other challenge with chestnuts in our area is weevils, the eggs of which are laid on the flowers before the nuts form. When the nut is mature and drops to the ground, the weevil is cued to begin eating its way out of the nut and into the ground. It’s likely your nuts will have weevils in them. Commercial growers deal with this by spraying their trees with pesticides. Our preference is to get the nuts into heated curing as fast as possible after harvest and to pick up every nut you can while harvesting in order to prevent more weevils from continuing their life cycle. Bring the nuts in quickly and we’ll get them cured, preventing the weevils from continuing to damage the nut.

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