This weekend I took a drive out to the Kastanu Chestnut Farm in Kewadin and picked chestnuts for the first time. It was great fun! I had no idea that the chestnuts would be on the ground, rather than on the tree, and that they would already be “hulled” from their bristly husks.
Apparently, when chestnuts are ripe, they fall from the tree and their husks break open. Some are still attached to their husks, and you can remove the chestnuts by hand. It’s a slow and prickly job and you need gloves to do that. Alternatively, many of the chestnuts break apart from their husks as they fall to the ground and all you have to do is pick them up. It’s especially easy if you use a “Nut Catcher” that rolls along the ground and picks up the hulled chestnuts. That was fun! In no time, we filled up a large container and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon out in the orchard.
To store our chestnuts, we were instructed to keep them in the refrigerator in large plastic bags pierced with holes, and to periodically shake the bag and rotate the nuts a bit to keep the air circulating. They should last for several weeks this way. Now we can roast a handful before dinner and enjoy them with a glass of Late Harvest Riesling.
The chestnut picking season usually lasts for just a few weeks in early to mid-October, so the picking season is pretty much coming to a close. If you’d still like to get some local chestnuts for the upcoming holidays, it’s not too late, but they are going fast! Look for them at the winter farmers markets and at select local grocers for the next couple of weeks.