Sunday, November 28, 2010
Chinkapin versus Chestnut
A second chinkapin seedling has popped up today! I swear, they must make a "sproing" noise when they emerge, the way they magically go from nothing to three leaves.
Anyway, when I got my nuts planted (har de har, I do love talking about my nuts!) I reserved a few for a photo-op and taste test. So, here they are, featured with a penny for scale-reference, and some imported chestnuts.
As you can see, there is a good reason that chinkapin aren't a part of our modern diet: they are tiny. Though I suppose size restrictions don't keep anyone from eating rice, so there goes that argument. More likely is that nobody ever focused on finding a mechanical means of harvesting and shelling them, leaving them to languish in the forgotten realms of so many other amazing foods that never make an appearance at grocery stores.
Cute, aren't they? Yes, you say, but what do they taste like?
They taste fegging delicious! The meat is soft and smooth, like acorn, if you happen to have ever eaten acorn, har har. And sweet. I can't compare them to the chestnut flavor, alas, because my fancy expensive imported chestnuts turned out to be all dried up. That big yellow brainy thing is the chestnut nut-meat. They were sweet but too tough to bother with raw, and when I tried roasting them, they turned into toothbreakers. So, not a fair comparison.
Both chinkapin and chestnut have a shell that is more like leather than wood. Again, much like acorn. This makes chestnuts versatile, because they can be cut open with a knife. Perhaps that is what I needed to try with the chinkapin. As it turns out, they are too small for a nutcracker to open. Using the extreme wrong end of the cracker, I sent a few nuts zinging across the living room, and painstakingly squashed the remainder. You can see the slightly mangled nutmeats, above. A board and a rock would have been faster, and mangled them just as thoroughly.
After eating those, I cracked open a pecan. Three things struck me. "Wow, this shell sure is a noisy brittle pain." "This nutmeat is giant!" And "this tastes like sawdust." There actually was enough moist sweet flavor in those smaller-than-peanut chinkapins to put pecans to shame. And I love pecans.