what I've learned about chestnuts
The autumnal equinox was only 24 hrs ago and it's warmer than many days we had this summer. Hurricanes have been pounding the Atlantic islands and gulf states and we've been under a lovely dome of high pressure for weeks here. Lake McConnerd is fully dried up.
|Listening to:||public radio|
|Weather:||85, breeze, sunny|
Good garden year, great one, really, Larry has been cranking out the tomatoes, corn, green beans, beets, potatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, even celery and watermelon and pumpkin. I've got a volunteer acorn squash by the compost pile. The chickens have a lovely garden they planted right by their front door of corn and a cute lil sunflower that bloomed.
Larry's nuts. He's been collecting chestnuts every day for a week or so and has been collecting pocketfuls of various kinds of hickory nuts on his multiple daily walks up the hill. Many of the hickory nuts appear to be bitternuts or old shagbarks, but the fresh shagbarks have been delicious. I got a few shagbarks from another friend, too.
I've read and tried a lot with the chestnuts and I have come to some conclusions. FWIW: Before collecting totally sweep the area and throw out what's already on the ground. I swear the second they hit the earth a worm finds his way in. Clear then gather every day from yesterday's clearing. If you're going to use in a recipe, savory or sweet, you might as well boil rather than roast. They cook more evenly and get a more even and usable texture, and the inner skin sticks to the shell rather than the nut making your life better when you peel. Roasting is a bit of a crapshoot, as overroasted they suck and underroasted they suck. Also no need to cure in the sun if you boil. If you cure just do it a couple or 3 days til they give just a little when you squeeze. The real aha moment for me was when I read about cutting a band across the belly of the nut before roasting or boiling rather than the well-accepted x cut. The band makes them open like a clamshell for ya when they are done. So much easier than trying to rip that shell open from the x, oy. The can opener blade of your swiss army knife makes a great chestnut knife. I freeze them in chinese food soup containers after boiling and if they got a little overboiled and mushy I go ahead and add vanilla and brown or white sugar before freezing. Apparently they freeze well raw and in the shell, too, though I haven't tried it so I can't verify just yet. Best to vacuum pack them that way for freshness. Gonna try that since I've already cooked and peeled many many pounds and ready to be done but the nuts are still coming.
Gonna make chestnut pumpkin bread again, that shit was delicious a couple yrs ago. And perhaps some chestnut stuffing for our Good W/o God Thanksgiving at the Chestnut Ridge this fall. How appropriate.
posted by cat 4:28 PM