About the Flour

For some folks it's hard to believe that you can make a remarkably sweet flour from a nut.  You have to remember that we refer to the chestnut as the Un-Nut because its characteristics are really not like a nut at all.  A "real" nut has 45-55% fat content.  Chestnut flour is more like 1% fat.  A "real" nut is low in carbohydrates.  Chestnut flour is about 78% carbohydrate.  For years it's been referred to as the grain that grows on trees. 

In the hills of Tuscany the Italians have gathered chestnuts for centuries, dried them and made flour.  It's still a staple in the diets of many and recipes for its use are common. 

It's amazing that Americans are only now beginning to realize the value of this food.  For those who are sensitive to or allergic to wheat it offers a wonderful alternative.  Because it is gluten free it's perfect for those with Celiac Disease.  To describe a flour as sweet seems odd, but chestnut flour is truly sweet and mellow and imparts a most unusual yet welcome flavor to everything in which it is used. 

We began looking for a source of chestnut flour after we planted the orchard and found no one who was milling it with a stone mill.  Neither could we find a manufacturer of stone mills in this country.  Why the emphasis on a stone mill?  It's because of the heat damage that occurs to the flour during the milling process in many of the high speed knife mills. 

Eventually we found a manufacturer in Austria who would make a mill to our specifications, and that's how it all began.  We offer stone milled flour as well as our extra fine flour and  include them in mixes.  We also have many recipes on-line that make use of chestnut flour.  I would encourage you to try it.  It's like nothing you've ever eaten.  It's good, it's healthy, and now it's available here at Allen Creek Farm.

 

About the Process

It's hard to believe the amount of labor that goes into producing a bag of flour.  It starts with the harvest itself.  Once the nuts are in the barn they are sorted by size.  The smaller nuts are set aside to go to the dryer where they will dry for about 10-14 days in temperatures of about 95-100 degrees -- enough to dry them without exposing them to too much heat.

Once the drying process has been completed the shells are removed mechanically and the nuts hand sorted for any remaining pellicle.  If the nuts are perfectly clean they go in a bag.  If there is any remaining pellicle it is either removed by hand or put through the process again.

Prior to milling the nuts are sorted once more.  It is imperative that no pellicle go through the milling process (or at least as little as humanly possible).  The pellicle is bitter and will alter the flavor of the flour. 

The nuts are fed into the hopper of the stone mill by hand slowly.  They travel down through the schnecke (translates as snail) in a spiral fashion.  Its purpose is to feed the nuts one at a time in order to prevent the mill stones from being overloaded.  The typical mill is not set up to handle such large grains. 

The first pass through the mill is designed to break the nuts into small pieces.  Then it goes through again with the stones much closer together in order to produce the flour.

Once the flour is produced it is bagged, labeled and sealed awaiting your order for that very special chestnut cake you want to make.

Definitely a gourmet treat, your guests will be impressed.

Allen Creek Farm 2000-2009
Artwork Dankwardt Ink, Inc. 2009