Are roadside chestnuts really safe to eat? 

It’s been just over a year since we bought a house in the Japanese countryside for US$9,100, and now that the sweltering heat of summer has subsided, we’ve discovered our new neighbourhood has a lot more to offer than waterfalls — it appears we have an abundance of chestnuts on hand too.

Wild-growing chestnuts had fallen on the road by our house, and this charming aspect of countryside living didn’t go unnoticed by our reporter Go Hatori, who wasted no time in collecting as many as he could.

Well, he tried collecting them, because this city slicker didn’t realise that these chestnuts were spiky!

▼ “Ouch!”

Still, Go wasn’t going to let a few spikes get in the way of collecting free chestnuts, so he whipped off his head towel and used it to gather the spiky pods.

▼ Look at these beauties!

Before our team went crazy collecting all the chestnuts, it was decided that Go should try them out first to see if the roadside harvest would be worth our while. So he took them home and diligently researched “how to peel chestnuts”, where he discovered that stepping on the pods with your shoes is said to be one of the easiest ways to squeeze the chestnuts out of them.

▼ Would it really work?

Well, wouldn’t you know it…the technique worked a treat, gently easing the chestnuts out without any spiky damage to Go’s skin.

Go realised he should’ve employed this technique by the roadside, but at least he now knows better for next time.

So, with his beautiful chestnuts now released from their spiky cages, Go posted his progress on Instagram, where some of his followers advised him to soak the nuts in water for half a day before freezing them and placing them in boiling water, to make them easier to peel.

▼ So that’s what Go did.

After three days in the freezer, Go poured boiling water over the chestnuts and left them to soak for five minutes.

▼ Then he took out a knife and made a small incision at one end…

▼ …and attempted to peel off the skins.

Unfortunately, the peeling process wan’t as easy as Go had hoped. While a lot of the skin came off, there were still stubborn bits that remained, and Go spent around 20 minutes removing them.

▼ A lot of effort for half a dozen chestnuts.

After all his hard work, Go was determined to make something good with these precious nuts, so he decided to take them with him to the office, where he would make chestnut rice with them in his Mestin camping rice cooker.

▼ But first, he boiled the nuts at home for five minutes to soften them.

The next day, Go set up his workstation with a flame-retardant mat and everything he needed to make chestnut rice.

Go was able to fit some writing in while he waited for his indoor camping setup to make his lunch for him.

Behind the metal screen, Go had set the rice cooker up on a stand containing a flame lit from solid fuel, kind of like a tealight candle, only stronger.

▼ Like a lot of our less-than-safe office experiments, Go doesn’t recommend trying this at home.

Once the solid fuel had totally burnt itself out, Go wrapped the cooker in a towel to help it steam thoroughly for ten minutes.

▼ Once the ten minutes was up, his chestnut rice was ready.

In keeping with the camping vibe, Go served the rice up in a metal bowl…

…and gave the first serving to his boss, Yoshio, who, as the official owner of the SoraHouse in the countryside, is the one we really have to thank for the chestnuts.

Yoshio is a discerning food critic who likes to tell it how it is, so Go waited with bated breath to find out if his near-weeklong chestnut preparation had been worth it.

▼ Fingers crossed…

“Whoah, Go, this is delicious!!!”

Relieved to see the smile on his boss’ face, Go also tucked in (scroll to the end in the post below), where he surmised that the chestnuts weren’t necessarily sweet, like the roasted chestnuts he’s used to, but they tasted like chestnuts all the same, and they were delicious.

Now that we know the chestnuts aren’t just okay to eat, but tasty enough to make one of autumn’s great comfort foods, we’ll definitely be collecting more from the roadside next time we head out to the SoraHouse. That is, as long as the local wildlife doesn’t get to them first!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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