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View Poll Results: Have you eaten chestnuts (castagna) before?
Yes, I look forward to chestnut season each year 4 26.67%
Yes, and I consider them to be okay 5 33.33%
Yes, and I don't think they're worth the bother 1 6.67%
No, I either don't know where to get them or how to cook them 5 33.33%
Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-27-2007, 02:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

I'm trying to gauge what percentage of folks have eaten chestnuts before. I have a small chestnut farm and I'm amazed every year how some folks that have well established traditions of eating chestnuts while others are completely knew to them. What's your experience?

I'm not trying to promote my chestnuts. You can find them available directly from growers from a variety of online sources.
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Old 09-27-2007, 03:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Voted, I like them roasted, lots of trees here in the wild.
When I was young we went out and threw sticks into the trees to get the
chestnuts on the ground.





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Old 09-27-2007, 06:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

It was never a part of our tradition growing up but I've been thinking of getting the tools and making an order from your site www.chestnuts.us

When does season close, when do you stop shipping them?
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Old 09-27-2007, 06:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

I wouldn't mind trying them, I think it's more of a 'Northern' thing,I've only seen them on Christmas movies.....you should post a link. Do you have to cook them ?
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Old 09-27-2007, 06:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Harvey, we eat them most years. Pretty popular in Europe , for some people it's an annual event. The French use them in many different ways for cooking ,perhaps an added value product is the way to go for you like specialist Chestnut paste with added flavors or pre-mixed Chestnut Stuffing for Christmas. Good Luck with your project.
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Old 09-27-2007, 07:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

The only time I have seen them available was a few years back when we were in Salzburg, Austria for New Years walking around in Mozartplatz (sp?). We bought bags of them roasted and they were pretty good.
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Old 09-27-2007, 09:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Ron, very few growing in the wild here in the U.S. after the importation of Asian varieties about 120 years ago which brought along a viral infection which the U.S. native species was very susceptible to. Some call it the largest ecological disaster in recorded history, but many do not know about it.

Jarred, my orchard is in its 9th year and production has increased every year but I keep selling out earlier. Last year I sold out by early November. Though chestnuts are traditionally a "holiday season" sort of thing, many people are very anxious and start ordering as soon as I have them available in mid-September (my rare and very popular Italian varities will become available next week). Ariel tells me King Solomon ate 10 pounds a week, though I'm sure this is one of the instances when he is pulling my leg! LOL On the other hand, I do have a Jewish customer in New York that eats 20 pounds a week! They store well in a refrigerator so it's best that folks not wait too long or they'll be stuck with imports that arrive in not very good shape after being fumigated with mehtyl bromide and coming on a slow boat.

Felix, chestnuts are best if either roasted or, as some people unlike me prefer, boiled. Some varieties are okay when raw, but even they are usually better if cooked. It's not hard, but they are considered a "slow food" because of the peeling involved, etc.

Steve, I have a French cultivar I'm growing, Bouche de Betizac, a hybrid between sativa and crenata (European and Japanese). I have no interest into getting into valued added products because of the labor involved. It either requires a lot of expensive equipment ($100,000+) or cheap labor (ala China). In addition, about 95% of the chestnuts consumed in the U.S. are imported and are often in bad shape when they arrive so ours sell at a great premium.

Here is a fun little radio spot earlier this week from a short food segment on a Baltimore radio station http://tinyurl.com/258z4p.

Thanks for the comments. If you decide you want to try them, don't be worried about offending me if you don't think they're great. I like them, but some customers like them much more than me (one custoer would like 20 pounds a week year-round if he could get them) and some never bother to re-order. Certainly don't order to help out my "project". I sell out easily already.
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Old 09-27-2007, 09:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

I usually get some from Whole Foods each year and roast them for my wife's special mustard green corn bread stuffing recipe. Of course I always eat some by themselves too! I like lots of sea salt on mine.
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

A friend from north Florida sent me a box of azomite chestnuts. I don't know anything about this clone but it has to be the biggest chestnut that I have seen. They roast and taste like any other chestnut. That means good. This is his first crop and I don't know if he is selling them by mail. We buy boxes of Satsuma for our family from them every year (it's one of my favorite citrus)
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Old 09-27-2007, 01:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Nope Never!! I think I have seen them before....maybe..LOL Don't think it is a Southern thang!!!!
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Old 09-27-2007, 09:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Our neighbors had them when I was growing up. We would eat the ones that dropped on our side of the fence raw. I liked them, but sometimes we wouls have problems with worms getting in them.
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Old 09-27-2007, 09:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Brian, those are larvae of the chestnut weevil. I am very fortunate to not have this pest like other parts of the country, Europe, Asia, etc.

Jordon, I am not at all familiar with "azomite chestnuts" and know quite a bit about chestnuts. I searched on Google but didn't come up with anything. I'd appreciate more details. The largest chestnuts I harvest might weight close to 2 ounces, but I prefer ones that are about 20-25/pound.

Kylie, I have a pretty good customer in Baton Rouge and many customers in Florida. I have customers in just about every state, if not all. I think they're any "everywhere thing". They are definitely more popular with certain ethnic groups or if folks had family that were raised in the east. The USPS flat rate box has worked out fantastic for our business since so many customers are back east (10 pounds in a box would cost about $26 instead of $9 if it were not for this program).

For my own history, I had chestnuts one time about 35 years ago and then didn't have them until about 9 years ago when I decided to start growing them. Most of my customers eat a lot more chestnuts than I do! With the quantity some folks order I wonder if they do anything besides eat chestnuts, honestly.
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Old 09-27-2007, 10:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

btw great poll!

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Old 09-28-2007, 02:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Harvey, I sent a note to the chestnut grower.
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:03 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Thanks, Jordon. The main nursery for chestnuts in Florida (well, the only one I know of) is Chestnut Hill Nursery and I believe they specialize in Dunstan hybrids. I've tried some but don't consider them my favorites. Thanks agian, let me know what you find out, please.
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Harvey what zones do they grow in ? Also I looked at a New Zealand site and they grow them on the North Island , they are old types or unknown hybrids as they will not import new stock because of pest problems.
What age do the trees start producing ?
Thanks
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:12 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

The chestnuts are Dunstan and he uses Azomite to do wounders on the trees. He said they were very expensive so he grew some seedlings. I found them as good as we can buy. Are there some that are really much better?
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Steve, my farm is in zone 9 (Sunset 14), but chestnuts are grown in warmer and much colder zones. There are growers in Canada, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Deleware, Ohio, Tenmessee, Kansas, Missouri, Florida, Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa that I know and the American Chestnut Foundation has projects in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and some others that I can't keep track of. There aren't too many of us crazy folks growing chestnuts so I know most of them.

Jordon, I think the Italian Marroni cultivars I grow are much better than the Dunstans. Not quite as large, on agerage, as something like 'Willamette', possibly, but the flavor and texture is considered superior by many of my customers I assure you. I have a quota on them until I can increase production further and I get lots of complaints about that. Many customers don't understand why I can't just crank out some more! How about I trade you 10 pounds of Marroni for an Ae Ae pup? I'll even pay the shipping! LOL
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Old 09-28-2007, 05:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Harvey, how long will they keep?
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Old 09-28-2007, 05:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Poll: Have you eaten chestnuts before?

Quote:
Originally Posted by momoese View Post
Harvey, how long will they keep?
It largely depends on how quickly they were harvested, how they were handled by the grower after harvest, and how the consumer stores them. Chestnuts that are allowed to dry out after falling from the tree will often get moldy sooner, though it seems to be affected by the cultivar also. Many growers store them in a cooler with a mesh bag that allows them to dry out and some growers don't keep them cold enough (chestnuts freeze at about 25-26F). I served a term as president of the Chestnut Growers of America and even after I had a post-harvest technology professor from UC Davis speak to a group of chestnut growers there were some that failed to reform their practices. Some growers don't bother to wash their chestnuts before put them into cold storage. Putting chestnuts straight into poly bags can also be a problem because of condensation. I harvest chestnuts as promptly as I can, though sometimes we don't get through the entire orchard in a day. We sort by size (except our Italian Marroni) and wash them (just fresh water, though some growers foolishly IMO use water mixed with bleach), and then pack into mesh bags for about three days. Then, after condensation has evaporated, I pack them into poly bags in which I've made some small ventilation holes. This allows some additional condensation to escape, limits O2 so that transpiration slows down, but still lets some O2 in so that the nuts do not die. A chestnut that has been killed will get moldy much quicker. I suggested to one grower that they could put a plastic bag over their head and I'd come back in a couple of weeks to see if they had turned green yet!

Okay, the short answer: chestnuts from our farm should last for 2-4 months in your vegatable drawer. I keep some just about year round and by February or so I will see some that turn moldy. However, when Eating Well Magazine contacted me in early August wanting chestnuts for a cover shot, I still had some from last year that were fine after I washed them up slightly.

I suggest that anyone who wants good quality chestnuts buy them directly from the grower as soon after harvest as possible unless they know from experience how well the grower does handling their product. Very few markets carry chestnuts that are worth buying, in my opinion. Many of these are dried out and/or moldy.

To reiterate, I am not trying to sell chestnuts here. If you enjoy chestnuts, you'd probably enjoy mine. I think the Italian Marroni are the best chestnuts and so do most of my customers that order them. An older Italian told me in a phone conversation last year that these are better than he ever had in Italy, though I think I had better ones in Italy when I went to a conference there in 2001. On the other hand, there are a few customers that say they prefer my Colossal cultivar. I'm glad we don't all have the same preferences. If we did, we might only have one banana cultivar to chose from! LOL
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