Orchard Visit with Alan


#61

Oh no, my report card is coming and the rain ate my homework.


#62

@alan Your wife is an attractive lady.


#63

When people come in and show interest in my hobby and I give them a bag of apples or let them pick blueberries their so appreciative. I always say those that show interest gets the fruit.


#64

Craziness likes company. I will always be generous with my fruitcrazy friends. They almost make me feel sane.

We are not alone!


#65

Don’t worry- it is the fruit competing against each other, not grading you. :slight_smile:

When we got home, I took a brief look around the backyard with my older daughter and she had a few comments for me:

  • She used to think our backyard was packed with trees, but yours is more. She noted that I have strips of lawn in between my trees, even if the grass is only 8-10’ wide.

  • Your trees are taller, while most of mine are 8-12’ (with a few exceptions like peaches growing too big) and have fewer low branches- mine are low enough to be gnawed on by rabbits.

  • My best fruit looks like your bad fruit (which I thought was overstating the case slightly, depending on the type of fruit).

She’s already taller than mom, but has quite a ways to go (8+") to catch me. Another 3-4" would be good for sports though.

True- our wives got to discuss how crazy their husbands are!


#66

This is the 2nd time I’ve had pawpaw and I’m still not sure what to make of them. I wasn’t all that fond of them last time. This time I cautiosly tasted it and found it pretty good. Then, after a few minutes, I noticed some flavors I wasn’t fond of. So it varries quite a bit as you eat it. Either that or I can’t take more than a few bites.

I did notice that the best ones have been the seedlings from Edible Landscaping that I found on the ground and were half black. Alan said he wasn’t fond of them and that Overleese is better. He felt that Sunflower, which wasn’t ripe yet, was the best of the 3.

I was impressed with the high brix- I hadn’t realized that pawpaw were that sweet. The two from the ground were 21 and 22 brix. One picked slightly soft from the tree was 24 brix. Of the 3, the two from the ground were much better (less harsh/unpleasant flavor). But, I’m not sure if the picked one was from the seedling or from Overleese. It could just be that I like the ones which have fallen and that all 3 were from the same tree.

The small one in the pic is from Overleese, but it wasn’t as ripe (only 12 brix and a lighter color), so that isn’t a fair comparison.

I was surprised when both my daughters and my wife liked it. Each thought it tasted like something different:

Older daughter- like pineapple. I could see this, as it has a bit of the same tingly aftertaste.

Younger daughter- like a mix of pineapple and mango. I agree, it has a bit of mango texture.

Wife- like a non-smelly durian. No comment from me, as I wouldn’t go near durian.


#67

Peach notes-
Heath Cling- A+ review. My older daughter said it was the best peach she’s had. That seemed a bit of a reach to me- my recent Carnival peaches edge it for me, as they has more sugar and acid. Nevertheless, it was very good. Younger daughter liked it a lot as well. 13-17 brix, good firm, juicy texture.

Indian Free-The best (and largest one) one had good flavor and a nice acid tang (12-13 brix). Great coloring. I liked it, but a notch below the HC.
I think the kids were much more impressed with HC. The small one (first pic below) had even more coloring, but not enough sugar (10-11 brix).

A couple other yellow ones (Victoria? a late O’Henry?)- All were turning to mush, without much brix (10-11). Similar to the late ones I got at the farmer’s market last weekend. It’s a tough time of year for peaches, which makes HC and IF all the more impressive.

All the apples have been very good so far.
Apples-
Jonagold (dark red)- 15-16 brix and extremely good. Juicy, crunchy, sweet, and huge.
Jonagold (striped)- 15 brix and pretty good, but not quite as good as the dark red strain. Maybe a bit less explosive crunch?
Suncrisp (15-16 brix)- also juicy, with good crunch and full flavored. Very good as well.
Hudson’s Golden Gem (17-18 brix)- Favored over the striped Jonagold by co-workers, though both were liked.

And this last pic didn’t come from Alan’s fruit, but I did a tasting today at work with them, so I’ll add them. Interestingly, the two things with the lowest brix got the most positive comments (Black Beauty muscadine and Florina Qurina). The FQ is a Fuji like apple- sweet, mild, with some floral notes. I let the Old Nonpareil go too long, as most were destroyed by yellow jackets.


#68

cracked me up!

again, great!

I thoroughly enjoyed this thread from beginning to end.

Such wisdom, such beautiful fruit; and family.

And a shout to everyone commenting. Such a fun read.

Thank you,

Dax


#69

RedSun, hey, watch it, you young whippersnapper! “I thought he is a 70 years old dinosaur.” Seventy isn’t so old!


#70

Near the end of my visit, Alan showed me a huge Dunstan chestnut tree (I hadn’t realized that he was growing them). I’m not sure how old it is, but it must have been there for a while, even if they grow fast.

Some had started to fall, so we collected a few, which I shoved in my pocket- I’d already filled the bags with fruit :slight_smile:

Those chestnuts reminded me of a tree by the road, where I had collected a few in past years. I happened to be passing by the next day and stopped to see what it had. I think it is a Chinese variety, as opposed to Dunstan, which is mostly American, with a bit of Chinese. The difference in nuts is remarkable. I didn’t find that many large ones (squirrels may have helped), but I did see a lot of tiny failed nuts.

After dumping the bowl of nuts out on the cutting board, I noticed some stuff in left in the bowl. I thought it was strange that I would have some rice left in there. Then I saw it move and I jumped a bit- I’m proud to say, there was no shriek…

I looked more closely and found 3 holes in 2 of the nuts.

When I cut open the nuts, more worms came out to say “Hi!”:

Evidently, it is the Chestnut Weevil. There are two kinds, per this paper (an interesting read), the small (5-11 mm) and large (7-14 mm). From what I can tell, Alan has the small kind, though they are on the large side for small ones (most were in the 7-10mm range, but there were a few 5-6mm).
http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/weevil.pdf

When looking closely at the next pic, I noticed that one of the Chinese chestnuts from the roadside also had a hole. That sent me back down to my car, where the 4 nuts have resided since Monday. Yup- I found 4 worms in my cup-holder…I’m glad my wife wasn’t the one to find them, as they were still squirming around, just like the ones in the bowl.

The road-side nuts were also the “small” chestnut weevil mostly 5-8 mm. Looks like they didn’t get quite as big as the ones eating the fine Dunstan nuts.

The above pdf cautions that the worms can eat their way out of paper and plastic bags, so I didn’t take any chances. After squishing them, I sealed the remains (and damaged nuts which could have more worms) in a yogurt-container/tomb. Hopefully no cement is needed to keep containment.

I love the following line from the pdf:
“Buyers have zero tolerance for living grubs crawling out of the chestnuts they bought”

It goes on to suggest a hot water bath (120F) to kill the grubs, as consumers “seem to
tolerate dead grubs in a few nuts”.

From the pdf, the worms emerge in ~8 days, unless it is cold, in which case it takes longer. If I knew that before, I’d keep the bowl in the kitchen for 2 weeks, to ensure that all the wormy nuts revealed themselves. I could still get a surprise or two…

Most of what I’ve written here may be old hat to the chestnut growers out there. Hopefully I haven’t told everyone what they already knew, but I had no idea that chestnuts had their own version of PC.

After closely examining each nut, I cut them with a cross and soaked them in a salt water solution.

Interestingly, the Chinese chestnuts from the road-side float, while the larger Dunstans sink to the bottom.

From what I’ve read, after the 1 hour soak I should:

Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven at the lowest rack position for 20 – 30 minutes. I turn them over after 10 minutes and then check at 20 mins. to see if any are done. You can tell the chestnuts are done when the shell peels back and the inside gets golden brown.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!


#71

Yes; any pin-holes are a dead give-away for weevils. The float test gets rid of most (but not all) of the compromised nuts. Some can be damaged by fungus too. Best the grab them right upon windfall.

Don’t be afraid to cut your cross hatches really deep. I like to use the “return” of a Santoku chef’s knife (where the blade heel meets at a sharp tip at the base of the bolster finger-guard); see diagram below.

I depress the pointed tip of the “return” down and puncture into each chestnut twice to form a deep “x” cut. This is quicker and safer than other knife methods. Don’t cut yourself.

I bake them on a cookie sheet about 385 degrees F for 20 minutes. A sound chestnut will have a wrinkled creamy yellow nutmeat inside-- no bugs-- no moldy “off” colorations. It should taste like a blend of corn and almonds, with a doughboy/grainy mouthfeel after the initial hardy snappy crunching texture akin to clamping your molars down on a macadamia.

Roasting them really brings out an extra flavor, scent, and warmth to the experience.

IMG_4906


#72

Bob,
“So we collected a few, which I shoved in my pocket”.

Did you check that pocket?!!!

Thanks for the post. It is good to know just in case I ever want to collect chestnuts.


#73

Gosh there’s a lot of money in chestnuts. 25-years ago Red Fern Farm in my area began planting chestnut trees. Those I saw were somewhere in the 30’ + tall range with equal spreads. Per acre with those larger trees he makes $10,000 and doesn’t pick up a single one himself.

Chestnuts have a late incompatibility problem when grafted. Some will continue to thrive but many will up and die. The way to grow chestnuts is to have a few grafted trees producing (large nuts) and to plant all seedlings from them.

Every year Red Fern Farm plants more.

Dax


#74

My dad has two chestnut trees that grow nuts that look like the pictures you show of Dunstan. They are prolific and bothersome enough to my dad that he’s been talking about cutting them down. He used to sell them to grocery stores and take them to farmers markets but now the stores are all large mega grocers that won’t buy from local farmers and the farmers market has turned I to a hippy hangout that the city requires licensing. So aside from giving me a small bag and anyone else in the neighborhood that want a them he takes bushels of them up into the woods for the animals to forage on.


#75

I just use my pruning shears- quick and completely safe.

The grubs weren’t in the nuts from my property, right? If they start showing up in those nuts I will cut down the trees. Where I’ve seen very old chestnut trees I’ve found clean nuts.


#76

That made me laugh. Actually, I never did check, but I think it was OK, as they weren’t in there that long- less than 2 hours. And it takes the worms a while to eat through the shell.

The 3 remaining nuts from the road-side all floated, but didn’t have any worms (unlike the 4th nut). But, they weren’t very good at all. They were smaller, dryer, and not sweet. My wife, who is pretty tolerant of most foods spit them out. She liked the ones from Alan’s tree (great aroma and sweet), as did both my daughters. I thought they were OK, but prefer peanuts and pistachios.

No more worms were found, so it looks like 6 days was long enough for all the ones present to come out.

I used the my potato-cutting knife (smooth (not a lot of teeth) serrated edge) and it worked pretty well. I cut a bit deep a few times, but it just left a light mark on the nut- not a big deal.

The nuts from both your tree and the one from the roadside had the weevils. I never got around to bringing the nuts from the roadside up until I was about to roast them. So the worms came out of them into the cup holder in my car. The ones from your property spent the week in a bowl in the kitchen, so when I poured the nuts onto the cutting board, the worms stayed in the bowl- at least I didn’t find any on the floor.

It’s not a high rate of infestation (2 bad nuts out of 25-30)- it’s just important to be prepared and it makes it tougher to give it away to people who aren’t used to dealing with wormy fruit. I have plenty of experience, so it wasn’t a problem- just a bit surprising at first. So, if you keep the nuts in a medium-
warm place for about a couple weeks (8 days to hatch and 2-3 weeks to complete development, per the PDF I linked above), with a container they can’t chew through (not paper or plastic bags), they should all come out. At that point, the rest of the nuts can be cooked. Just check them for holes as you cut the X. The 120F water bath sounds like the way to go, if you are planning to harvest hundreds of pounds to sell.

From the linked post:

But new weevil infestations are almost always the small species. Apparently, small
chestnut weevils can fly several miles or more to find previously uninfested trees.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Alan’s is close to 30’ tall. I think they are neat, but I don’t want to dedicate that much space to them. If I did, I’d have to find a spot on the North of the yard, as a tree that tall casts quite a bit of shade. Though now that I say that, maybe I should plant it at a rental, as a relatively low maintenance ornamental…

Alan, how old is that tree? I’m guessing 10-15 years, in order to get that big.


#77

I have actually kept it at that height so it doesn’t excessively shade the plums nearby. the tree is around 23 years old but would be twice as tall without the discipline of my pruning saw.


#78

I have several pounds of my chestnuts in my kitchen that I started gathering even before your visit. I’ve not seen a single grub emerge from that bag although the temps are warm there. Either you mixed up the chestnuts, or you were pretty unlucky.


#79

Wow- that’s a tall tree to be pruning. I can see why you wouldn’t want it to get twice as tall- while nice, chestnuts aren’t as tasty as plums, at least IMO. I don’t see myself going up that high, so I think I’ll only plant one in a place where there isn’t much impact (on me- most people seem to like shade trees…) of it growing 50+’ high.

Maybe I was just unlucky- it was just two nuts. I am sure that they were from you, as I noticed the worms before even remembering to bring the roadside nuts up to the kitchen.

That aside, the softer shell from the Dunston nuts is hard to mistake (and lighter in color). The ones from the roadside were tougher and I had to put some force into cutting them.


#80

Or maybe the worms had mostly emerged by the time you gathered yours. It’s possible that some did crawl out of the bag without me noticing, but this was at least 5 pounds of nuts. The meat is more cracked and discolored this year than in the past- I assume from excess rain early on.