The chestnut and walnut picking season has a very short time frame of about two to three months from March to May, at least that is here in Australia! They are becoming an increasingly popular food item and true to form, me, my family and what seemed like a large portion of Sydney residents headed towards Lithgow, west of Sydney in NSW to pick chestnuts, walnuts and apples this Easter long weekend.
After a short two and a half hour drive, we had travelled past the apple orchards in Bilpin and arrived at Mount Irvine Kookootonga nut farm in the New South Wales Blue Mountains. We made our way through the narrow country lanes and started to forage for chestnuts. It was truely fun and also a day of learning! I didn’t realise that chestnuts had a spiky ouster shell, and when I say spiky I mean straight through my gardening gloves kind of spiky. Yowch!
I also would have never had a second look at the trees in which they came from. They are beautiful trees with very leafy and wide canopies. While the fruit is growing the tree is full of spiky, round and light green pompoms. They then fall to the ground when they are ready at which point they are foraged and prepared in many different ways. I also learnt that walnuts, one of my favourite breakfast and snack treats, actually grow inside a pear-like outer pod. I, like I am sure many of my fellow city people, just assumed that the brown brainy shell of the walnut or the glossy brown of the chestnut is how they grew on the tree! I guess that is why it is important to do these things and learn where our food comes from and how it looks in its natural form.
For more info visit http://www.kookootonga.com.au/