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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire



That's a line from the famous song, “The Christmas Song.” It's only subtitled “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” but that's what most people call it.”

It did get me thinking about Chestnuts. Chestnuts once made up to a quarter of the Appalachian forests, before blight greatly reduced their number. America now imports the vast majority of chestnuts consumed in the country.

Can you imagine what a huge food source those nuts must have been to the Native Americans? They were abundant, energy and nutrient dense, plus easy to collect. Combined with other abundant nuts like oak and beech, it wasn't all that hard to keep from starving. If the hunters came back empty handed, there was always something to eat.

In my local area the only really abundant forest nut is the beech. When I was a kid deer hunting with my dad I used to eat a mess of those. Might have missed a few chances at deer because I was looking more at the ground by my feet than I should. Any nuts missed in the fall are often still edible after the snow melt in the spring.

Our local oaks tend to be mostly the red oak trees. They were were a last resort nut in times of starvation as they contain a high amount of tannin. I read that letting them rinse in stream in a mesh bag overnight was how the tannin was removed. Maybe I didn't do it right because after soaking overnight they were still pretty bitter.

Chestnuts, on the other hand, are pretty tasty. It's funny that the American Chestnuts are gone, but the song remains.

-Sixbears

13 comments:

  1. When we were kids, I remember my Dad bringing home a brown paper bag filled with them. What a treat!

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    1. and to think they were once so abundant.

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  2. I don't think I ever had a chestnut. Had most of the others, though

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  3. When we lived in Croatia, we got paper cones filled with roasted chestnuts from sidewalk vendors. Our landlord would sometimes bring us some as a treat when his family had some. Good stuff.

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    1. I bet it was. Sounds tasty. I can picture it.

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  4. When I was a kid, my parents would take drives in the mountains in the fall to see the beautiful colored leaves. We would stop where we saw a street vendor roasting them and selling hot. Boy were they good. Then they all seemed to disappear. Don't blame it on me, I didn't eat that many of them (grin).

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    1. Looks like the blight got them. You are in the clear on this one Dizzy.

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  5. Two chess grandmasters were bragging on each other in a hotel lobby. What's that, you say? Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer? Yeah. That's it!

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  6. it is one thing to love fresh roasted nuts, but ever consider growing new nut bearing trees for future generations?

    Wildflower

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    1. My filberts are doing nicely thank you. Decided on them because they grow fast,, spread out and do a good job holding the soil on my hill. Well, that and they are tasty, just ask my chipmunks.

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  7. try rinsing the acorns twice.

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