Harvesting Chestnuts

Chestnuts are a late summer treat that I always looked forward to.
But I never looked forward to pricked fingers. Those Chestnut Burrs seem determined to "getcha". Of course nuts picked up at Super Markets avoid the pain. Chestnuts can be harvested with gloved hands, but the debris that is picked up is a nuisance, so I devised my own method.
Use a tongs like those that take corn-on-the-cob out of boiling water. Pick up the burrs by the lip as shown above and tap them against the inside of a bucket until the nuts are released. Liberated nuts can also be picked up with the tongs, but you may have to tighten the gripper pads to accommodate the smaller nuts.

Be on the lookout for small round worm holes like the Chestnut on the left above. This indicates that an egg had been laid and hatched out in the nut. The matured worm chewed itself to freedom and burrowed into the earth to complete its life cycle. It will  surface next year as a moth when the Chestnuts bloom, to fly away and deposit its own eggs and begin the cycle all over again.

Chestnuts must be removed from the shell, which is time consuming and potentially dangerous. They must also be allowed to vent when they are cooked, or they will expand and explode.  Common practice is to puncture the skin before cooking. Then Shell and Skin them and discard any that have Worms inside.

I found that if they were first cut in half, it not only prevented the explosion, but it also allowed the nuts to pop free of the shell when they were cooked. And I could discard wormy nuts instead of cooking them with the perfect nuts. But cutting them in half was still dangerous and not very accurate. If the nut is not cut in the center, the larger piece will tend to be trapped in the shell.

So I put on my thinking cap and invented the Gadget you see here.

This tool eliminates the danger of a knife slipping off the very slippery surface of the Chestnut shell. You can cut 8 or more nuts in the time it takes to shell only one. It also allows you to identify the nuts with worms inside and prevent them from being cooked with the perfect nuts.

Make one, you'll like it.
Or buy a Greatly improved one from GardenGrapevine.com HERE

You can Cook Chestnuts in boiling water, Roast them in an oven, or Microwave them. I like the microwave because it is quick and easy. But you may prefer the flavor of oven-roasted nuts.

*Microve halved Chestnuts for about 3 minutes
  (depending on your particular microwave)
  in a glass container.
*Shell them as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
*Use them in your favorite recipe.

Whichever method you use, first cut them in half and discard any that may have white powdery streaks or dark spots inside. Cooking may reveal dark spots that also indicate they should be discarded. These dark spots tend to taint the flavor.

You can find lots of Chestnut Recipes HERE