Growing & Harvesting
Chestnuts are a hardy and a perennial crop. The trees that our nuts are currently harvested from are 80 to 100 years old! Additional trees were planted in 2019, and a new farm added in 2022, with the goal of producing 30,000 pounds by 2035. In total, we farm chestnuts on 3 farms in two different states.
The nuts ripen on the tree and fall to the ground when ripe. We strive to harvest daily. After picking, cleaning, and sorting, the nuts are treated in a hot water bath. This prevents any insect damage from the chestnut weevil.
Chestnuts should be stored in a HIGH humidity refrigerated environment. Since the nuts contain up to 50% moisture, they are able to prevent mold growth, since the nut is still alive! Store in a perforated bag for up to three months in the refrigerator.
Sometimes a light surface mold does develop. Don't despair, just wipe it off of soak in a light bleach solution, as you would clean any other produce. This does not affect the nut meat itself.
Preparing and Eating your Fresh Chestnuts:
Chestnuts get sweeter as they start to dry out. Allow the nuts to dry for a few days before eating. Just as the nut starts to shrink in the shell, it is ready!
Make a cut or 'x' in the shell. Or you can cut in half. Roast in the oven at 400 for approximately 10-15 minutes. Try your hand at roasting over a fire until shells turn brown. Removing the inside skin, reduces any bitter flavor.
Peeling for baking and other recipes:
Cut in half, and roast on a pan for 5 minutes at 400. Remove shells and skins. Place nuts in water on simmer to prepare for recipes.
Have a chestnut tree and want to make some money?
Castania Farms is buying fresh chestnuts. We are looking for properties in Berks County and eastern Lebanon County to lease trees for the right to harvest nuts. Want to pick yourself? Please contact us for harvesting instructions. Price will be paid by pound delivered.