We were out walking yesterday at our usual trail, minding our own business, when we heard things falling. Keiko looked and said they were chestnuts. We were being bombarded by chestnuts! It is possible they were just naturally falling, but I have a suspicion that the squirrel up the tree was helping them along. There were lots of empty husks with the nut part missing all over the ground.
Now these guys would hurt really, really bad if one hit you in the head. They are protected by a spiny, fleshy covering which makes getting the ‘nut’ out a bit of a hassle.
We carefully collected a few and brought them home.
I just used a fork and a pocket knife and searched for the seam in the spiny covering, peeling it apart with the knife while holding it with the fork. Web sites say you should collect the nuts that have the outer spiny portions split already. But they would not have survived long with the squirrels and others vying for the tasty treat.
Some of them were not as dark as they could be, but we are trying them out nonetheless. Next time we go we will harvest more and let them sit in a cool place until they ‘ripen’ a little more.
I cut a little X in the top of them, soaked them in water for a while and then roasted them in the oven. You need to cut the X so that they don’t explode when roasting. Keiko says to just put them in a dutch oven to take care of any pesky ones that want to explode.
After about 25 minutes at 400 deg. F., we took them out, put them in a dish towel and cracked the shells. I should have read the web site closer as it recommends to leave them wrapped for five minutes. That could make it easier to get rid of the inner covering. Yes, these little nuggets of goodness have 3 – count ’em – 3 obstacles before you get to the edible part!
Your reward after this is a wonderful smell from the oven and a tasty, starchy treat.