Chestnuts are free!

Nevermind the price tag at the grocery store: chestnuts are free when you forage!!! To remove chestnuts from their prickly casing, step on the husks and drag along the ground until the nuts pop out.

In the photos below, instructor Jason H. Craban of the wilderness-skills school TrackersNW holds an edible chestnut on the left and a (toxic) horse chestnut on the right. Both are thorny, but look closely, and you’ll see that the casing protecting the horse chestnuts has more defined spikes. It’s kind of like the difference between hair that’s spiked up with gel (toxic! ha), and hair that’s just messy.

Another look:

(The color difference just reflects age. Green = young, brown = older.)

If you live in Portland, you can find a map of chestnut trees in the city at

So, what to do with those chestnuts once you gather them? My forager friends have suggested two recipes:
* score them, roast them at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, peel and grind into flour
* boil them for 15 minutes, peel and eat whole

Do you have recipes you’d like to share?

Learn more wild plants by exploring the photo archives on the Search Plants! page.

One thought on “Chestnuts are free!

  1. You can eat edible chestnuts raw out of the shells or slash them on one side with a knife to cut outer skin so that they will not explode in the oven, cooked in the oven at 375 degree F for 3/4 of an hour, when golden brown peel off outer layer and inner layer and eat. Enjoy the flavour and taste of roasted chestnuts.
    You can also microwave then for about 2 to 4 minutes, any longer they will get hard, dont forget to score the outer skins with a knife first or they will explode.
    I use chestnuts to make my favorite turkey roast.

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