Chestnut season

Chestnut farmer’s thumb.  Yep. All over the Ardèche right now you can bet there are people in their kitchens wincing from the pain of yet another chestnut shell digging deep into the soft bit of the thumb nail. I can barely bend my thumb from the wince inducing ache.

But it’s an ephemeral event. As are chestnuts.  The main drop of nuts is over and now it’s the race to get them processed before the grubs get them. Or before you lose the will to do anything bar shoving them in the bottom of the fridge and hoping someone else will do the work.

There are endless ways to prepare them. I go for the simplest.

One big heave of my cleaver of a knife to cleave the nut in two. (This is invaluable to check for any grubs.)  Then into boiling water for ten minutes, drain and cool.


Using a teaspoon I then scoop out the flesh; or if the shell is particularly promising, peel it off, leaving the nuts almost whole. Well half whole.  They start to look like little brains.

Then into a plastic bag and into the freezer, awaiting inspiration.

Actually my friend Robyn sent me the most divine recipe for chestnut and chocolate truffle cake which I’d love to try.

alliums plantedBut for now it’s on with other similarly shaped orbs.  I am up to my knees in bulb planting.  Small brown objects falling from the trees and getting sunk into the ground are keeping me too busy to linger in the kitchen.  Alas.

But I can fool myself into thinking I will have plenty of time later. When the bulbs are in. And before I head back to the orchard bank for yet more weeding, landscaping, transplanting, planting and mulching.