We are happy to announce that we have been awarded a USDA producer grant to ‘Characterize Chestnut Cure’. This innovative study, statistically designed, robustly seeks to refine our current curing modeling. This modeling is what drives our prescriptions on how to bring nuts to their optimal consumable state (i.e., maximum sweetness & moisture). Below is a sample info card which accompanies orders.
The reason instructions like these are needed is that unlike most other produce, ripeness of chestnuts is not readily obvious, with the fruit hidden in its hard shell. If the nut inside is under-ripe, it will lack sweetness, tasting bland. If it is over-ripe, it will be dry and unpalatable.
Our goal is to get ripeness ‘just right’ by managing this natural curing process, the rate of which depends on the temperature and humidity nuts experience post-harvest. With high temperature and low humidity nuts ripen in a few days, while at low temperature and high humidity ripening is delayed for months.
Here at Mountain Grown Chestnuts, nuts are harvested twice daily, then cold stored (31.5 F) at high humidity (90-95% RH) to slow the ripening process. This allows us to deliver nuts at Christmas equal in quality to those harvested/cured in September. But with this storage regimen, prescriptions of what to do to bring the nuts to their optimum are necessary. Our current modeling is based on in-house testing, but mostly supported by the collection of scientific research available to date. This research though, is on different chestnut cultivars, grown in Asia or Europe, with differing storage protocols, and consequently vary much in their findings.
This new research however, will be focused on our patented Dunstan trees, grown in our Southern Appalachian location. It will provide first ever insight regarding the effect of nut size, color, shape, time of harvest, etc. on cure rate, thereby enabling more refined prescriptions of what to do to bring our chestnuts to their full potential. This type of insight suits our commercial customers well, as consistent, sustained quality throughout the chestnut season (September thru December) is paramount, both in brewing and culinary activities.
So, stay tuned for results. This study will be conducted during the upcoming 2023 harvest, with results published in early 2024.