Saturday, April 20, 2013

Picking Chestnuts at Pinehaven Farm

The weather was wet and wild today, the day we picked to go picking chestnuts at Pinehaven Farm in Wingello, Southern Highlands. Who knew the weather would turn out so bad when we booked the tour but we still went ahead. We left Sydney in the pouring rain taking care to drive slowly as the roads were wet but traffic was light.

We arrived at Exeter General Store to meet Jill and Nick from Foodpath Culinary Tours. It turned out everyone piked out but the four of us. Crazy people that we are! Thankfully, the rain had eased to a drizzle by the time we arrived at the farm about 15 mins drive from Exeter. Thank you God for listening to my prayers! Jill handed us some buckets and gloves. Dennis, the owner of Pinehaven, gave us instructions on what to do, which trees to choose, explained the two different chestnut varieties and off we went.

We didn't know that there are two different types of chestnuts - one for boiling and the other for roasting. There are subtle characteristics to differentiate the two. The ones for boiling are slightly smaller in size and darker in colour. The roasting chestnuts are bigger and have a lovely mahogany colour. Learnt something new today. The chestnut trees are not big. The nuts are encased in a spiky outer shell which drops to the ground when ripen. The spiky outer shell will open and you can see usually 2 or 3 nuts inside. You need to wear gloves to pick the chestnuts as the spikes are very sharp. The best way to prise the shell is to use your feet, preferably wearing covered shoes e.g. boots. Most of the ground area under each tree is covered with the 'fruits' and it was easy to just pick the chestnuts from the ground. It's manual labour and can be back-breaking if you're doing it for long.

We spent about an hour walking around and collecting chestnuts and placing them into the buckets. You pay for what you collect at $6.50/kg, so we were careful to only pick the amount that we need. We picked the two different varieties.

We ended up with 3 kgs of chestnuts to bring home. The chestnuts can be frozen and kept for months. Roger, Dennis' son-in-law brought out some roasted chestnuts for us to try and it was deliciously tasty and toasty warm on a cold day.
For boiling/steaming

For roasting
Despite the rain and wind, we had a great time with Jill. It is a wonderful experience for our girls, to learn more about the food that we eat and where it comes from.

After the tour, we went off to our friends' home in the Southern Highlands for lunch before heading home. It was a long day for all of us but one that we thoroughly enjoyed the family bonding time.


  1. Looks like you had a fun day irrespective of the weather!

  2. Beautiful chestnut images, I love them! Good that despite the weather, you all went ahead and had fun.