The on-line store is open with large and jumbo nuts still available, but the inventory is quickly decreasing. Don't delay! Our last order date is December 16th.
Chestnuts in December
While it is possible to find fresh chestnuts in December, many of our customers report store-bought chestnuts that are too dry or are moldy inside. Grocery store produce workers often are not familiar with chestnuts and display them without refrigeration, and fail to pull old chestnuts when they lose freshness.
At Chestnut Charlie's, we gather chestnuts promptly as they fall (in September and October) and refrigerate down to 32F in breatheable bags with a humidifier in the cooler. With proper storage, we keep our chestnuts as fresh as possible up to the time of shipment. We re-inspect and re- bag just before shipping. We also work with our grocery partners with display suggestions so the nuts stay fresh.
If you buy chestnuts from a grocery or natural foods store, look for chestnuts that are plump and lustrous. Squeeze them-they should be firm or with a very little give. If the skins dent under your touch, the kernels are probably dried and shrunken, and will not roast well. Poorly kept chestnuts also become susceptible to kernel molds, which you will discover after peeling. Check them in the store with the produce manager and let them know if their product is not good.
Where else to find our chestnuts
In Lawrence, the Community Mercantile and Checkers stores. In Kansas City Johnson County, the 2 Whole Foods stores, and the 888 International Market. At Nature's Pantry in Independence, MO, Open Harvest in Lincoln, NE and Nature's Supply in Stillwater OK. Also in the Rocky Mountain region of Whole Foods, Denver, Boulder, Santa Fe, etc.
Straight from harvest chestnuts are quite heavy with starch and water. But by now, they have "cured" and are quite sweet. They will tend to dry in your refrigerator, so moderate your cooking time. You can store them in vented plastic bag, but watch the moisture so they don't mold. If they do have external mold, just wash it off. It will not affect the kernal inside the shell.
Midwest weather, trees and the uncertainty of agriculture.
We had rain in the spring and not in June or July and then some in early August. Summer heat arrived in September. Several trees died after 3 years of drought, then one of those crazy Kansas winds blew through over Labor Day weekend and dropped a bunch of burrs too green. Despite all that, perhaps because of the timing of all that, we harvested some of the largest nuts we've ever had and we had a total tonnage larger than we ever have had. The trees are so tall that we have learned not to predict the crop until we have it all gathered. Good thing as my prediction would have been quite dire.
Our harvest help
We are lucky to be close to Lawrence and have a great harvest crew. About 50 people from our community; students, families, folks interested in agriculture and many others, come out to hand harvest with us. This year a couple of Scout troops are gathering chestnuts as a fund raiser. We'd like to thank all of our helpers. Because of their consistency we are able to harvest daily, rain or shine, and get the nuts into the ideal conditions of our cooler within a day of falling.
We appreciate your encouragement and hope that you will support tree crops, the soil-conserving permanent agriculture.
Contact us if you wish to receive an e-mail when chestnuts are available or when the pick your own harvest is ready.
Charlie started planting chestnut
trees in 1995 on old farm ground north of Lawrence, Kansas. Following
organic practices from the start, the orchard has been
certified organic annually since 1998.
Growing up around wild black walnut trees in eastern Kansas, and being inspired by the visionary economist J. Russell Smith, author of Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, Charlie has always been driven to plant trees that produce food. Whether talking about erosion, water quality, dead zones or global warming, trees are part of the solution. "The more we learn about modern petrochemical-based agriculture,
the more convinced am I that tree crops offer a lifesaving, sustainable
path to the future."
Since cancer rates began to increase in the 1950s and '60's,
and pesticides and other synthetic farm chemicals showed up in ground
water and were implicated in the the poor health of farmers, it has
been Charlie's bedrock conviction that we would farm organically or not at
all. Chestnut Charlie's is certified organic by Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA).
We are proud members of the Chestnut Growers of America