Idaho Panhandle Chestnut Company


Chestnut burrs with catkin

Idaho Panhandle Chestnut Company

Two locations situated in the northern regions of Idaho, Panhandle Chestnut begins operations in 2022.

For the next three years, Panhandle Chestnut will be focused on developing orchards and online seedling and tree sales. In 2026, Panhandle Chestnut will develop new nut processing facilities at the Sandpoint, Idaho nursery.

The main research station in Porthill, Idaho serves as the primary orchard and breeding program.

Seedling production and retail sales will occur initially only from the Sandpoint, Idaho farm.

Keep fresh chestnuts refrigerated!

Chestnuts are not a dried nut, but are perishable.

Learn more about chestnuts here!

Easy Peeling Chestnut Varieties

I prefer the easy-peeling variety. Why? Because when the chestnuts are hot, they are the best! Hard-to-peel chestnuts burn fingers more easily. I lose considerable joy when my fingers are burned. That is why I prefer "easy-to-peel-chestnuts."

Furthermore, I can eat the easy-to-peel variety more quickly. One can juggle and quickly release the steaming nut from the rapidly contracting shell.

In practice, one only peels chestnuts when they are hot. As chestnuts cool, roasted chestnuts' outer shells contract. Then the inner skin underneath the shell sticks tenaciously to the nut. The faster you can peel your roasted chestnuts, the easier the task will be. We commonly peel the entire batch before eating in earnest.

Cooking Chestnuts

Cooking Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts


Chestnut tree

Idaho Panhandle Chestnuts' Nursery

Located northeast of Sandpoint, Idaho on East Shingle Mill Road.

Dedicated to growing commercial orchard-quality chestnut seedlings and young chestnut trees.

Sandpoint Idaho

Raw chestnuts


Mature Chetnut Orchard Harvest Time

The Orchard


Why Grow So Many Chestnut Trees

Chestnut orchard irrigation reduces risk, offering to double each year's harvest compared to dry orchards. Consequently, we believe orchard irrigation offers north Idaho farmers a competitive advantage in achieving or exceeding the ten-year-break-even point.

What's the Big Deal About Chestnuts?

Tall timber chestnut tree looking up toward sky

Since the early 1900s, the American chestnut has almost disappeared from our culture. We hear historical hints of chestnuts in songs lauding "chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."

I never ate a chestnut until my Japanese wife introduced them to me fifteen years ago. Initially, I was underwhelmed because she would buy these "hard-to-peel" chestnuts and the bitter inner shell of the chestnut embedded itself in the chestnuts' crenulations. Again, I was underwhelmed.

In those early years, my wife fanatically devoted painstaking effort to process her "precious chestnuts." I didn't understand her cult-like facination with chestnuts. Being the helpful sort, I begain to wonder if there was an easier way to satisfy my wife's chestnut addiction.

Excited to please my wife, I researched how chestnuts were processed in other countries, such as Italy, Portugal, China and Japan. Researching chestnut varieties and growing habits intrigued me immensely. I began considering planting a few chestnut trees on our Idaho farm.

My wife was mildly amused. Then she became delighted. I started ordering fresh chestnuts online from different parts of the United States. During the 2021 season, we ordered and roasted over 100 pounds of chestnuts from various online vendors in Iowa, Illinois and Washington. I noticed a huge difference in flavor and how easy the nuts peeled. The Dunstan variety was the "easy-to-peel chestnut" winner. The nuts were also larger than Washington's variety.

For full disclosure, we ordered at least twice from multiple vendors during my research.

My wife liked the chestnuts from Washington, but I found the Washington chestnut variety difficult to peel. I learned this is due to the variety.

How We Prepare Chestnuts for Roasting

Roasted chestnuts in cone

After considerable research and experimentation, we settled on a preferred process for roasting chestnuts at our home for either immediate eating or freezing them for later consumption. Without doubt, my process was influenced by my wife's Japanese heritage. Oddly enough, I later learned that our home process we learned through trial and error is the same adopted by China's commercial chestnut processing factories.

Chinese chestnut harvest is huge and the order volume of frozen chestnuts has increased

In the above article, the manager of the Chinese chestnut processing factory says:

"We imported the processing technology for frozen chestnuts from Japan. We use a unique process where the chestnuts are first steamed and then roasted."

This is very similar to how we roast chestnuts at home. What we do with refrigerated fresh nuts is:

  1. Flat-side down, use a box-cutter to score an "X" across the round face of the nut;
  2. Toss into 200 degree water and let set for ten minutes, changing out the water twice;
  3. Drain water and place on roasting pan with the sliced X facing up;
  4. Roast on oven mid-shelf for 30 minutes;
  5. Meanwhile, prepare a large glass bowl for hot nuts - lay a slightly damp cotton kitchen towel inside the bowl;
  6. Remove and dump all nuts into the bowl;
  7. Close the ends of the damp towel around the top of the nuts and wait ten minutes.
  8. Keep the predators from the bowl of steaming chestnuts (good luck).

Often, we find ourselves watching the clock, waiting the appropriate ten minutes for the steaming chestnuts to cool to workable temperature. Beware! These freshly roasted nuts are sweet, hot, tasty temptresses.

That is why they are so popular around the world and why we need to bring them back to our culture.