During this holiday season, we hear Nat King Cole crooning about those chestnuts again. Did you know that Michigan leads the nation in chestnut production?
Yet most of us have never eaten a chestnut. That is something Dennis Fulbright wants to change. He's a plant pathologist and professor with Michigan State University.
Fulbright says the chestnut is not actually a nut, but a fruit. The shelf life for chestnuts is short, maybe about three months.
The chestnut industry in Michigan is rapidly growing. There are currently over 100 growers, with the farm sizes averaging four to acres, but some are as large as 100 acres. Last year, 80,000 pounds of chestnuts were harvested by Michigan growers.
The chestnut can be used as a natural sweetener, ground into flour, or eaten on its own. One of the difficulties of preparing chestnuts is removing the shell, but Fulbright says Michigan has one of the only commercial Italian chestnut peeling machines in the Western Hemisphere.
You can order chestnuts or look up chestnut-related recipes on the Chestnut Growers, Inc. site here.