We have two great big Chinese chestnut trees in our yard and although this year’s harvest appears lighter than in year’s past (what’s up with that?), there are still more than enough nuts to experiment with in the kitchen.
Chestnuts are relatively easy to harvest because they’re picked off the ground. As the nuts ripen, the burr — the razor sharp outer shell– opens up and the whole package falls to the ground, typically with a nut half sticking out of the spiky shell.
We’ve been gathering the nuts off and on for the past couple of weeks and stashing them in the refrigerator (raw chestnuts must be refrigerated because they lack the fat content of walnuts and pecans that protect them from degradation).
I’m not sure what to make with them. Chestnut pesto sounds nice. And maybe chestnut puree. These nuts are always associated with Christmas — “chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose” — which is not really accurate. By the time the holidays roll around, all the chestnuts are already off the trees. Chestnuts are really an October nut. My favorite way to eat them: Roasted with a bit of sea salt and paired with a nice glass of sherry. A perfect cool weather refreshment.