I had never eaten a chestnut. Until today, I wasn’t entirely sure what a chestnut was. I even ordered 25 trees from a supplier in Florida that will arrive spring of 2013. No idea. Just doing what I thought sounded like a good idea. Get some trees in the ground. Grow lumber for future generations. Harvest nuts. Go.
We were picking up apples at Eileen’s house on Sunday and I noticed what I assumed were buckeyes. I asked the kids to leave them lay because I don’t want buckeye trees on the farm. They are toxic to cows and horses, useless for lumber and are not welcome here. Anyway, I did little more than glance at them and focused, instead, on apples.
But they weren’t buckeyes. They were chestnuts. I think they are Chinese chestnuts. I realized my mistake today and drove back to pick them up after work. In the cold. In the wind. Thankfully, not in the rain. A cold front came through and dropped the temperature about 20 degrees in 10 minutes. I didn’t have a jacket with me. Remember to wear gloves next time you pick up chestnuts, OK?
We roasted a handful in the oven and, true to the description, they are like eating a slightly sweet, nutty potato. Maybe I’m missing something. Where is the wonder and majesty? Maybe in the 68 years since Mel Torme wrote The Christmas Song chestnuts have changed. Maybe we have more sweets in our diet now. I dunno. Though I plan to roast some at Christmas, the jury is still out on the whole chestnut experiment. However, we’re going to plant some, we have trees coming in the mail and we’ll figure something out.
Now, I want to say a word about Eileen. When I was younger (maybe just young) I hauled manure from Barney’s for Eileen’s asparagus (Barney deserves a blog of his own), I rebuilt her wooden swing that her cousin had made for her but the tornado threw into the ditch (Babe deserves a blog post) and I helped her pick veggies, cleaned up her fallen limbs and ate lots of her cookies. She gave me a couple of her deceased husband’s ties. Years later I did some really stupid stuff and hit a particularly low point in life. Eileen made it a point to tell me in front of a large group that, to her, I was still as good as gold. Eileen means a lot to me.
I think it’s great that, though Eileen is now in a nursing home, I am still welcome at her house. It may not always be that way but, though she has no idea I was there to get apples and chestnuts, I know that I have her blessing even if it comes by proxy through her son. Thanks Larry.
First off, we need more Eileen’s in the world!
Chestnuts, my neighbor has two trees and I have collected them over the years. They are OK. Not my favorite but OK. I am contemplating filberts.
Filberts are in the works here too.
I have two chestnut trees coming along, one a baby, one a preteen – neither ready to bear fruit just yet. Chestnuts are readily available in the shops here before Christmas, probably from China. When they first come out of the fire, and they’re so hot you can’t shell them without singeing your fingers – then they taste really good. The second they start cooling down, though, the flavour kind of dissipates. Maybe it’s the adrenaline surge associated with burning your fingers that makes the flavour more intense.
Love your story about Eileen.
and I think using a fire to roast them must do something beneficial. Also I think you’re right about eating them as fast as possible. I tried eating one first, it was pretty OK. Julie ate one later, after it had cooled and she made a face.
Couple of things I have put together this morning. It’s probably not a chinese chestnut but a hybrid. Also, the nuts may have a better taste after they have aged for a month or more…you know, like at Christmas. So. Back to apples. And tomatoes. And peppers. And composting horse manure.
We like them raw actually…they are like weeds here. Excellent firewood, lumber and coppice material.
We’re evaluating their use for coppice. Hadn’t considered the leaves.
Oh and good browse too for the bovines – very high protein leaves, 25% I think.