Chestnuts have been called a grain that grows on trees. J. Russell Smith in his book “Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture” makes direct comparisons between chestnut production in Corsica to corn production in the U.S in the 1920s. He argues, I think successfully, that chestnuts can provide an viable alternative to corn that in many ways provides a more sustainable approach. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. The electronic version is free.
So what is a good use for this tree grain? Chestnut flour of course! It is gluten free! From epicurious “it can be used to replace part of the all-purpose flour in a standard recipe or all of the rice flour in a gluten free recipe. It lends a nutty, earthy note to anything it’s added to.”
Here was our approach to making chestnut flour.
First, we roasted and peeled. See our previous blog post on this subject.
Next, we chopped the peeled nuts into smaller chunks and dehydrated them using a dehydrator. We set it on the “Nuts and Seeds” setting (105F) and allowed it to dehydrate overnight. Your oven on its lowest setting could also be used to dehydrate the chestnuts.
We couldn’t get to the grinding of the dehydrated nuts right away, so we placed them in the refrigerator for about a day. It took some experimentation, which may have resulted in almost killing the food processor. Let’s skip the experimentation and proceed with a recommendation.
We recommend using the food processor to cut the nuts to chunks about the size of coffee beans or smaller. And perhaps we just should have used the food processor to chop the nuts into bean size pieces BEFORE dehydrating them (they are softer before dehydration) then we could have skipped almost killing the food processor.
Then, run the smaller chunks through the coffee grinder.
We started with 2.25 lbs of dried chestnuts which yielded about 6.5 cups of flour. The first recipe for the chestnut flour will be biscotti. What do you like to make with chestnut flour?
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