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Storing Chestnuts For Many Weeks

Washington Chestnut Company has been performing chestnut storage tests for over a decade to help consumers extend the storage of fresh chestnuts. The storage tests have proved to be a great investment. Chestnuts without proper handling usually will not store for more than 3 to 5 weeks. In our latest storage test we took some chestnut with the first signs of molds/fungus growth and processed them to achieve stable storage of chestnuts until late December from chestnuts harvested in October and early November without the use of magic.

Our goal is to help our customers be successful with chestnuts. Early in our pioneering days of chestnuts, customers would ask us how to best store chestnuts. We reached out to other growers and the scientists of chestnuts and were given some excellent guidance. Overall the guidance resulted in being able to store chestnuts up to 4 weeks. This was great progress as compared to the 2 weeks of storage life we were experiencing.

Chestnuts with mold on them
These chestnuts are molding because they were not
processed properly after harvest


Here are few things were tried but were not satisfied with the results:

1. Hot water bath warm enough to kill some fungus/models but not hot enough to kill the chestnuts
2. A bleach bath
3. Freezing


Of these three options the bleach bath gave the best results. We felt 4 weeks of storage was not good enough so we continued to try to find a better process. The hot water bath did not help at all, maybe even causing a shortened storage life. Freezing changed the chestnut texture to a mush, not so good for eating quality.

In mid December a bag containing Basatla #2 chestnuts and Regis Montis chestnuts was found in the cooler with small (white) spots of fungus/molds on the outer shell of the chestnuts. We have seen this before and know if immediate action is not taken the fungus/molds will destroy the chestnuts. The first action was to wash the chestnut under running water in the sink to wash off the white spots. Once the chestnuts were washed we allowed the chestnuts to drain all excess water off.

The next step was to kill the fungus/molds and their spores that might still be on the chestnuts. This required a bath. We knew bleach baths have limited success, we needed something better. We chose to try potassium metabisulfite, a product used in the process of making wines and beers, yes beer saved the world again. We placed 1 tsp of potassium metabisulfite in a gallon of water and used this as the bath solution. With the one gallon of bath we were able to successfully process about 10 pounds of chestnuts. The chestnuts were placed in the bath for 5 minutes. After the bath the chestnuts were laid out to dry in a single layer on cookie sheets at normal room temperature. The chestnuts were allowed to dry/cure for about 4 days. Once the chestnuts had sweetened up, we ate a few to test the taste. The process did not have any bad effects on the taste or texture of the chestnuts.

Chestnuts in perfect condition
These chestnuts are in perfect condition because they were
processed properly after harvest


Now that we have nice sweet, easy peeling fresh chestnuts, it was time to put them away for a long nap for the winter months. This step was simply placing the chestnuts in a plastic shopping bag, tying up the top and placing the bag in the refrigerator. Now the chestnuts will store for another 4 – 10 weeks. Total storage time from harvest was over 10 weeks. This is 5 times longer than the 2 weeks of storage we started with. Our storage test is still ongoing. We hope to have fresh chestnut from this process into the following March after the fall harvest in October.

We have a ecommerce web site at www.BuyFreshChestnuts.com for purchasing fresh chestnuts and chestnut trees from us.

 
 

Contact Information:

Farm Location:
6160 Everson Goshen Rd
Everson, WA 98247
Ph: (360) 966-7158
Fax: (360) 966-7994
Email: chestnuts.wa@gmail.com


Business Offices:
Washington Chestnut Company
6160 Everson Goshen Rd.
Everson, WA 98247
Ph: (360) 966-7158