Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Chestnut Week is next week!


OK, so National Chestnut Week is not high on my celebration list!  Didn't even know there was such a thing!

But hey, part of the fun of homeschooling is trying things new....and getting to go on field trips... or, even better, getting to do both in one shot!

Yesterday, the girls and I gathered chestnuts at a local orchard.  We spent three hours there, each of us picking enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket.  The bucket weighed about 35 lbs. when full.    We were paid $10 for each full bucket.

It was a good lesson in economics....maybe they'll be less likely to blow that $10 they earned, knowing it took 3 hours to earn it!

So, what do you think of when you hear the word chestnuts?  I think of the Christmas song......chestnuts roasting on an open fire.....   But what else can you do with chestnuts besides roast them???  Does anyone still even eat roasted chestnuts???  I can't say I ever have!

I decided to find out a few facts about chestnuts.  I was surprised.

First off, we Americans don't eat much of them.  (OK, that was no one I know eats them!)   The U.S. per capita consumption is only 0.04 lbs, compared to 2 lbs. for China and 1 lb. for Europeans.  Big difference!

Next, I thought we were just doing old fashioned labor yesterday and gathering the nuts by hand.  Nope, worldwide this is the norm.  However, there are folks looking to mechanize this step. (My hands say.......please do!!  Even with lined leather gloves on, those burrs still can poke through....OUCH!!!)

And, I learned that most American think that chestnuts are only used for roasting (again that was not really a surprise), but did ya know that chestnuts can used in flours, main dishes, soups, and even desserts.  Taiwan even has chestnut flavored ice cream bars! 

Chestnuts are high in fiber and low in fat....sounds like Americans need to eat more of them!!  Chestnuts are gluten free, so they can be ground into chestnut flour for those sensitive to gluten.  

It takes about 2.5 lbs. of chestnuts in the shell to make one pound of dried chestnuts peeled.   So that means that each bucket that we gathered will be about 14 lbs. once they are peeled and dried.

There are quite a few recipes at Chestnuts Online, including some great sounding Italian ones!    Now I'm hungry!

OK, here are some pictures from our outing.

Here in the Appalachian foothills, the fall colors are just starting.

Looking was a long drive up to the top orchard.

The orchard at the top of the hill.
Orchard #4

The orchard where we decided to gather.  It was the oldest of the 4 orchards.
Orchard #3

We found a tree with burrs all over the ground and started in.
Burrs everywhere

Aren't they pretty!
Chestnuts up close



  1. Looks like a great field trip! I've never picked chestnuts, we get hickory and walnuts here.They look prickly!

  2. dustbunniesandbooksThursday, October 08, 2009

    They are very prickly....some varieties more than others! Even with lined leather gloves, we still sometimes felt their bite!


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