New Zealand Chestnut Council issues recommendations for orchard
hygiene and harvest and storage protocols.
Chestnut Traders insist that their suppliers meet these, as a
minimum. Click here to see the local
(New Zealand) market TAG specifications.
Nuts are harvested every 2-3 days, washed to remove orchard debris,
(grass etc) and dipped to control surface moulds. They are placed
in a coolstore on the day of harvest.
Chestnuts are a perishable product. Under the right refrigerated
conditions (between 0C and -2C) they should keep for at least six
months without significant deterioration. However, at room temperature,
their shelf life is extremely limited. Chestnuts can be frozen.
Chestnuts supplied by Chestnut Traders will have been handled in
accordance with strict protocols with respect to orchard hygiene,
frequency of collection, washing and cool storage to ensure best
quality, and meet any specific requirements of the customer. Often
our requirements are more stringent than the minimum set by the
How to recognise a good chestnut
To be sure the chestnuts you are purchasing are of the best quality,
their skin should be intact (no splits etc), they should be free
of surface mould and they should be firm if squeezed. Before you
use chestnuts that have been stored for any period, they can quickly
be checked, covering them in water to a depth of 50mm. Any chestnuts
that have started to rot will float to the surface, and should be
discarded immediately. Some of the 'reluctant swimmers' may also
be showing signs of rot, but may be acceptable for immediate
use, at the cook's discretion.
All growers wait for the nuts to fall from the tree. Some experimentation
has been done with injections to force nuts to fall at once, but
this is not used commercially.
Some orchards harvest manually, but many use some form of mechanisation.
Development is in progress on a number of sweepers, which are driven
by a tractor to move the nuts into rows. The nuts can then be either
shovelled into bins or picked up manually. Some growers use machines
that suck the nuts and burrs up - either before or after sweeping