Food Network Holiday Special
Food Finds, a hit TV show on the Food Network, visited Delmarvelous Farms.
Food Finds filmed our harvest, a chestnut roast and a seven course chestnut feast.
Delmarvelous Chestnuts in the News
The Petitts and Delmarvelous Chestnuts were featured in the New Journal, Wilmington DE Today. Below are excerpts from "Native Delaware: Homegrown Chestnuts are Limited in Region" by Margo McDonough.
Chestnuts were plentiful at one time along the East Coast of the United States, but a blight destroyed most of the trees about 100 years ago.
Chestnuts were on the menu at the first Thanksgiving, and many of us still
serve them at the big feast, often mixed into a stuffing or root vegetable
dish. Today, most of the U.S. chestnut supply comes from far-off locales,
including China, Japan, Italy and Spain -- but some are grown right here in
Delmarvelous Chestnuts, a farm located outside Townsend, ranks as one of the
top five commercial chestnut growers in the U.S., even though only 16 acres
of trees are harvested there each year. The farm is operated by Gary and
Nancy Petitt, who purchased the property and began establishing the orchard
Chestnuts are cholesterol-free and almost fat-free, according to Dr. Sue
Snider, cooperative extension food and nutrition specialist. In addition,
they have a high fiber content and are a source of complex carbohydrates.
Although chestnuts are a smart food choice any day of the year, most of us
only think about them at holiday time. Which is why Nancy Petitt's life is
so frenetic right now. "We're shipping out a couple hundred orders a day,"
says Petitt. "Chestnuts are all I do this time of year, other than sleep."
The Petitts' schedule ramps up right after Labor Day, when the first of the
crop comes in. Using a mechanical harvester, the couple spends about four
hours a day in the orchard in September. By October, they're harvesting
eight hours a day. "And this all started as my husband's little retirement
project," says Nancy Petitt.
But the animation in Petitt's voice makes it clear that chestnut farming
holds more appeal than a retirement spent playing golf or bridge. She sings
the praises of the American-Asian chestnut hybrid that Delmarvelous grows:
"Our chestnuts are a lot sweeter than Asian chestnuts. And, unlike the
colossal variety grown in the western U.S., these chestnuts peel easily. The
inner skin doesn't stick to the nutmeat."
Other than Delmarvelous Farms and UD's demonstration plot, you won't find many chestnuts trees in Delaware.
"It would be nice to see Delaware homeowners start planting chestnut trees," says Johnson, Kent Country Cooperative Extension agent.
Chestnut Soup Preparation Demonstration
Nancy and Gary Petitt of Delmarvelous Farms gave a live demonstration of how to make chestnut soup on Your Morning on CN8, which aired on the Comcast Network. To obtain a video, write to Nancy Petitt at Nancy@buychestnuts.com.