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May 13, 2007 05:23 PM

Amazing Chinese chestnuts, bland American chestnuts, Japanese chestnuts & European chestnuts

The only thing I like about chestnuts roasting on an open fire is the romance in the song ... the holidays are here ... Jack Frost's nipping at my nose.

Ok, roasting they smell good, but I don't ever remember finishing a bag .. maybe eating three or four at the most. There isn't much flavor there. The chestnut is the equivalent of the yucca to me ... a bland and boring starch. It's that darn song that has me buying chestnuts.

Well, thank you Irving Berlin ... otherwise I never would have bought a bag of Chinese chestnuts today and ... WOW ... I'm nuts about them.

These are tiny... little larger than a hazelnut ... and sweet, smoky wonderfulness. Put in the microwave to reheat the a heady aroma perfumed the kitchen. I actually prefer them room temperature where there are more flavor nuances ... but either way ... good.

So ... now I'm interested in other varietes of chestnuts. What's good?

Unfortuantely I don't know the specirfic variety of Chinese chestnut I chowed on. The sign also said kastanaya, but that turned out to be Tagalog for chestnut. There's a Filipino population in the area.

Here's a few articles about chestnut varieties:

Interesting article on Italian Ticino Chestnuts

Volcano Roccamonfina chestnut

Lots of chestnut links

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  1. Were they already roasted & shelled? The ones I got outside the Chinese market from the roasting guy had a distinctive smoky taste that is definately not the slightly sweet starchy taste I am used to. Personally I didn't like it, but it was definately a stronger taste.

    1 Reply
    1. re: torty

      These were roasted, but not shelled. They had one of those cool plastic chestnut openers in the bag. Actually don't need it, the shell is very thin and almost papery. Squeezing most of the chestnuts was enough to pop them open.

    2. The native chestnut trees in America were wiped out by a blight long ago. All were thought to be wiped out when a botanist (or someone of that caliber) recently stumbled upon a small grove of native chestnut trees in a relatively isolated area somewhere around Appalachia (maybe North Carolina). That's all I recall to that story for the most part. I am sure that the location will remain a secret, and botanists will be running batteries upon batteries of tests on the trees, the soil, and the surrounding ecosystem in order to determine why these trees survived.

      I don't know how the nuts from these native trees compared to the Chinese variety that you enjoyed, but I do know that the new variety that is now being grown for harvest in the US just isn't up to par. My sister brought home a few bags from Oregon (I believe) that she received from an acquaintance. I was thrilled to hear that chestnuts were back in the US, but to my disappointment, the nuts were somewhat mealy and bland. The variety being grown is a blight-resistant variety - definitely not the same animal as the native.

      1. OK, not the same as fresh, but in the asian markets, you can buy a bag of roasted, shelled and vacuumed sealed chestnuts for about $1 or just a tad bit more. It is usually in the snack area. They are really tasty. I like to keep some in the cupboard.

        1. The Korean roasted chestnut is probably the same variety as the Chinese. Very good flavor from being roasted over ondau, a round charcoal brick.