Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Chestnuts Boiling On A Stovetop Fire
sound appealing, the first batch tasted great after 15-20 minutes of boiling, with a flavor reminiscent of sweet potatoes. Recently, though, a friend roasted some on a gas grill for a similar amount of time, and it has to be said that the aroma generated by a plate full of freshly roasted chestnuts is enough to endear one for life to this rarely encountered food.
Below is some advice from Bill Sachs, our resident expert on nut-bearing trees, about eating chestnuts (Castanea sp.). Harvesting chestnuts from the roadside, it's hard to tell if they've already cured for a week, and the chestnuts we've cooked thus far have been free of any bugs, but it's good to keep these things in mind. Also, be sure to score the shell before cooking. Otherwise they can explode like popcorn. I had one spit in my eye.
"Most nuts need to “cure” for a week or more after harvest to reduce their moisture content before they acquire proper flavor and texture.
One note of caution… before you roast your chestnuts, cut a couple of them in half to see if they contain curculio larvae. The chestnut curculio or weevil is a fairly widespread pest that lays its eggs in developing chestnuts. When the chestnuts fall to the ground, the change in temperature signals the eggs somehow and they hatch. The result can be an unpleasant surprise. In their natural life cycle, the larvae emerge from the chestnuts by eating a small hole in the shell and burrowing into the ground to emerge a year or two later as the next generation of weevils."