I found out something interesting about chestnuts….besides that you can roast or boil them and eat them and use them in a ton of recipes. But first, do any of you or HAVE you ever roasted and eaten chestnuts? Do you have a special recipe that you use them in?
And second……here’s the interesting part that I found out quite by accident several years ago. Did you know that there can be a worm inside that beautiful chestnut? I was horrified to find it the first time I prepared chestnuts. Since then, I’ve done a bit of research and I’d like to share it with you today.
Evidence of the chestnut weevil is a tiny hole in the chestnut itself. A moth (the chestnut weevil) lays its eggs on the round side of the nut. The eggs hatch in eight days and the tiny worm eats its way into the kernal, just at the time of nut ripening. When the nuts fall to the ground, the worm exits the chestnut (the tiny hole) and burrows into the soil to emerge the following year and repeats the cycle of egg laying.
I have read that you are to harvest all the fruit that is likely to have been infested before the worm damages it extensively. You then soak the nuts in 120 degree F water for about 20 minutes which kills the eggs and worms. The nuts are still fit for consumption.
Okay, I don’t know about you but I just can’t bring myself to eat something that there MAY be a worm in. And believe me, from experience I know how tiny these worms are and can barely be seen but luckily I saw them before I prepared a dish with them.
So…..what can be done about this worm?
There are pesticides that can be used but to the “home grower”, it would be expensive and very hard to spray this huge chestnut tree. There is the alternative of gathering the nuts just AS SOON as they fall to the ground, before the worm has a chance to exit and burrow in the soil for hibernation. This would more than likely take a couple years to be SURE you’ve ridded the pests from the area. Of course, if there are other chestnut trees nearby, the probability exists that this infestation will continue.
What I have chosen to do this year is to gather the nuts on a daily basis and store them in a bucket outdoors for several days to see if the worms exit. If there are no worms after several days, it’s safe to say the nut hadn’t been infested.
I picked up my first batch of nuts on Wednesday and Thursday this week. I went ahead and roasted this batch but noticed quite a few black marks on the nuts themselves after I removed the outer shell. Some looked fine but not enough to use in any recipe. I will continue to gather the nuts on a daily basis as described above and see if any worms emerge. HOPEFULLY I’ll have a clean harvest in a few years as I know of no other chestnut trees near our home.
It really sounds like such a job, don’t you think? It’s a shame because they are such a beautiful nut……bringing to mind the song “Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire”.
IF you do decide to harvest some, there are a few ways you can prepare them for shelling. They can be boiled, roasted, and even microwaved. IF you roast them or microwave them, you need to pierce that outer brown shell because they will expand and explode if you don’t. The first time I boiled them and then removed the shell. This year, I sliced through each shell to the “meat” and then roasted them in the oven. The shell was so very easy to remove after letting them cool for about 15 minutes.
As I was doing my research, I found it strange that the majority of sites that had recipes and explained about the boiling or roasting, didn’t even mention this worm. That leads me to think that they assumed that everyone KNOWS about the weevil OR that it’s okay to eat the nut if they’re harvested early. So beware!
I’ll leave you with a few sites where I got my information (some include recipes) and you can make your own informed decision if you’re wanting to harvest chestnuts.
That’s it for today. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Did you already know about the Chestnut Weevil? Would you still enjoy the process of harvesting and preparing dishes after reading this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hugs and Have a Creative Day!