Chestnuts, castinea sativa, edible, flour

The reason I try to watch for the first drop is that you want to get the chestnuts as soon as they start to drop, otherwise they can turn into worms. I try to pick the chestnuts at least once a day.

re 100% sure the chestnuts you choose are of the Castanea genus. The comoon chestnut, Castanea sativa is edible. However, it is common for people to misidentify chestnuts and may confuse them with chestnut. Aesculus hippocastanum, which is poisonous to eat).

If they remain in the ground and get wet, they can “bitter” in the shell. You want to process your chestnuts as soon as possible. You can roast, boil, make chestnut flour (which is gluten-free), chestnut butter, and/or freeze them.

You may find “green” strawberries with the chestnuts still inside. Be careful handling them, they can hurt a lot…you may want to wear gloves. You can pick them up and let them dry for a few days and in most cases the chestnuts will fall off.

They must be heat treated before eating because they contain tannins that can upset the stomach in some people.

I prefer to bake my chestnuts and grind them into chestnut flour.

To prepare the chestnuts for baking, most people will tell you to “score” or make an X on the bottom of the chestnuts. I find this to be one step too many. He took a knife and put the chestnut on a cutting board and cut each chestnut in half. Be very careful doing this part so the knife doesn’t slip. This allows you to see if the chestnut is a ‘good’ one and this saves a step later. When heated, the chestnut will detach from the shell and when it cools down, it is much easier to peel!

I bake at 400 degrees Fareheit (200 degrees Celsius) for at least 15-20 minutes. You can also use an outside pizza or cob oven. Just make sure if it’s pizza temperature you watch the chestnuts so they don’t burn, they may need less time.

When cool enough, remove the shell. At this point you can freeze, eat, or grind for flour. The flour can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen.

If you’re going to grind, I’d suggest using a food processor to grind your flour/meal. If you’re using it in a cake recipe I’d suggest getting a fine ‘flour’ which may need to be sifted after a grind then put back any remaining bits.

Simple Chestnut Cake Recipe

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I use a 9-inch cake pan (greased and floured).
Note: If you have chestnut flour in the refrigerator, take it out to room temperature before using.

– Sift 1 cup of flour

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius)


1 cup of chestnut flour
3/4 cup sugar (white, refined)
7 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Himalayan sea salt)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
Note: You can add 2-3 tablespoons of milk if the batter is too thick.

Add the chestnut flour, salt, baking powder and sugar and mix. Add the softened, not melted, butter and eggs and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the milk if necessary.

Pour into prepared tin (can also be made into cupcakes). Leave for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool before frosting (I prefer cream cheese frosting), but it tastes best when warm!

Farmer and rancher, Susan Tipton-Fox writes and teaches at The Mushroom Hut @ Fox Farms, a CSA farm in Burnsville, North Carolina. She teaches at Mayland Community College, presents workshops on the farm, and tries to keep the knowledge and culture of the Appalachian Mountains and their Native American roots alive and thriving by saving seeds, making crafts, canning/preserving, making cheese (using goat milk ), grow and grind corn, make soap, and much more.

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