Chestnuts history and roasting tips

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire bring us visions of simpler times when people had more time to sit with family and friends to enjoy a special treat; bring back those times this holiday season.

Fresh chestnuts have a long history of being a fall, winter and holiday delicacy. American chestnut trees once covered over 200 million acres in the United States, but then destruction came.

A destructive fungus was first identified in 1904. Chestnut blight quickly consumed America’s forests. The fungus was probably introduced by an unnoticed hitchhiker, imported on Japanese chestnut trees. In less than 50 years chestnut blight eliminated 3.5 billion of an estimated four billion trees in the United States.

The American Chestnut Foundation was founded in 1983 by plant scientists. Their vision is to restore the American chestnut to its native habitat in the United States and is being accomplished through a breeding program and other foundation activities.

There is renewed interest in chestnuts but most people don’t know much about them since they have been scarce. Michigan State University Extension has the following tips regarding chestnuts:

Once chestnuts have been cooked and shelled, they should be stored in tightly sealed jars in the refrigerator for up to one to two months or in the freezer for up to a year.

Chestnuts in a basket