In case you have wondered about our chestnut hunt last Sunday … well, all that I can say was that I came home as one very happy chestnut gatherer! hehehe …
Despite my apprehension as to whether we would find any chestnuts since the season for chestnuts is about to end … I was glad to be proven wrong! There certainly were enough chestnuts left to be picked and gathered … as long as one was willing to spend some time looking for them amongst the dead leaves and chestnut husks on the ground! It is a relatively dirty job … but with a very sweet and tasty result! I loikeeee … 🙂
We started picking quite an amount of them in the little wood above the port of Bouveret (canton of Valais, near the French side of the end of Lake Léman) after we had noticed some chestnuts on the ground while we were walking along the path in the wood. We were even happier when we found more of them where we had initially intended to go before we got side-tracked by those that we found along the wood path! Especially since they were even bigger and for many … they were still covered in their prickly husks, which meant that they were still relatively fresh and that they had fallen to the ground recently!
We spent at least two full hours searching for chestnuts. Ideally, I would have liked to continue looking for more … but as the hubby also wanted to make use of the relatively nice and warm weather to go up the mountains … so we had no choice but to split our day outing into two different excursions. By 1.05pm we had to leave the area … in order to make our way back to the train station at Bouveret so as to catch the 2.00pm train. haizzz …
I was not not too pleased to have to leave the place when I was starting to enjoy looking for the chestnuts … but, to be fair to the hubby, and since we had also wanted to make use of the discount coupons that we had for a mountain excursion, … we left the place. Given that another chestnut gatherer had come while we were in the midst of looking and gathering the chestnuts, I however did not feel too bad when we had to leave … as it meant that she would then be able to gather more chestnuts for herself! After all, we must learn to share nature’s bounty, should we not? 🙂
Upon our arrival, we saw that the jetty at Bouveret had been converted into a filming area for a Russian film company. Luckily, we had chosen to take the train that morning so that we could have an early start on searching for chestnuts … or we might have been stranded trying to take a boat to Bouveret!
There were all these planks pasted with blue sheets put around the area to provide cover from the surrounding view during filming. It was a film set in the old days … which was why they had covered the surrounding views to avoid them being shot accidentally.
From the jetty/pier we headed in the direction of the woods which is located above the port of Bouveret. I love the residential homes in this area as they are not only visually attractive themselves … but they also have such superb views of the lake and the mountains. Lucky residents!
We would have loved to be one of the lucky residents of this area (there was an interesting opportunity a couple of years ago) … but it would not be very convenient for the hubby to go to work from here, unfortunately (at the time he was working in Zurich)! To get here from Lausanne took us more than an hour and we had to take a train all the way to St Maurice where there is a connecting train to Bouveret — basically, we had to go further inland past Lake Geneva and then we did a U-turn to head towards the other side of the lake.
This was the first chestnut tree that we saw as we were making our way towards the wood … unfortunately it is a private tree. But since it is situated just next to the street road, it is therefore allowed by law to pick any chestnuts that have fallen onto the public road lah!
We saw more trees as we went along … and even picked a few chestnuts that had fallen on the ground as we were walking along this road.
The chestnut trees on both sides of this stretch of the road, however, were clearly posted with a sign that says ‘PRIVE’ (private in English) and were even fenced up. So they were strictly off-limit!
It was a lovely day that Sunday … pleasantly warm, with enough sunshine to brighten up the area as it highlighted the beautiful colours of the leaves on the trees! When the days are like this, I just lurveee autumn! 🙂
It was when we reached a stretch in the wood (bottom right picture) with lots of dry leaves that we noticed …
… that there were chestnuts to be found among the dead leaves! Nice! Some of the chestnuts were partly hidden …
… and some lying there in the open begging for anybody who care to pick them! And some were still in their prickly husks.
So we stopped for some time here to search and gather our chestnuts. I came prepared with several plastic bags, so that we could go our separate ways with our own plastic bags to look for chestnuts! Unfortunately, the wood floor was a little wet — possibly from some rain the previous night — and being in the wood, there were mosquitoes! I had to swipe at them since I did not come prepared with any insect repellent while looking for the chestnuts … shucks!! The hubby obviously has no problem getting along with the mosquitoes … as he went further into the woods to gather chestnuts while I stick close to the path!
But we soon decided to leave the wood and made our way to this area … where we knew from our visit to the area last year that there were several chestnut trees … with benches and a water fountain for visitors! We were not sure whether we would find much chestnuts here since obviously, this would be a favourite place for gathering chestnuts for most people … but we did!
So after putting our bags on the bench … we set out to look for more chestnuts. As there were lots of dead chestnut leaves here as well as empty chestnut husks … the best way to look for the chestnuts is to have a stick to push at the dead leaves and husks! But while I chose to use a twig that I had found in the woods earlier on, the hubby chose to use a walking stick as well as his Swiss army knife to pry open some of the chestnuts!
Interestingly, the chestnuts here were not only bigger than those that we had found in the wood … many of them were also still in their prickly husks. And I can assure you from personal experience that those pointed husks are truly sharp! I had my hands pricked several times when trying to pry open and pick the chestnuts from these husks. But I soon learnt a trick to doing it a little painlessly. While the hubby used his Swiss army knife to prick open the husks … which I knew would definitely hurt …
… I used my feet and a twig! With my left foot to hold one side of the chestnut down … I used the twig to open the husk a little. Once it opened a little … I then used my right foot to push open the husk fully… and, voilà, I would then be able to pick the nuts inside easily! 🙂
Unfortunately, while I was enjoying gathering the chestnuts and getting the hang of prying open the chestnuts husk without hurting myself … it was time to go! It took us nearly two hours of walk (with short stops along the way) to reach our chestnut gathering area, so we had to leave early to make sure we had enough time to walk back down to the train station in order not to miss our train! haizzzz …
But for those two hours of search …
… we managed to bring home nearly 4 kilos of chestnuts! Not bad, right? These would have cost us more than CHF 30 (if we had bought them from the supermarkets)!
The two plastic bags on the left were those that I had collected … and the two on the right, some still with the husks, were those collected by the hubby. Being more skilful at prying open the chestnuts (if I do say so, myself! hehehe … :)) I brought home more chestnuts than the hubby lah!
Some of the chestnuts we picked up, still in their prickly husks.
And some of them prepared for roasting. It is important to make a cut into the chestnuts to allow air to come out during roasting. Otherwise, the chestnuts might burst open all over the kitchen stove or oven when they are subjected to strong heat. I can still remember how painful it got after doing a cut on a number of chestnuts as some of them can be quite hard and you would need to press on the knife to make a deep-enough cut.
But since I knew that I would want to go chestnut hunting this year, so I was better prepared this year!
I bought this chestnut cutter at a 50% discount some months ago! Was that not a spot of good luck!? 🙂 So this year, cutting the chestnuts were a breeze … which is really fortunate since we have a lot of chestnuts to roast! hehehe … 🙂
I roasted two plates of chestnuts (as in the picture above) the following evening after we came back from our excursions … and we are slowly but surely going through the nearly 4 kilos of chestnuts that we brought home from our chestnut hunting last Sunday. And since we then went to La Berneuse after our chestnut hunt … that was an extra 4 kilos of weight that we had to carry on our back during our trip up to La Berneuse!
Last year’s chestnut hunt and chestnut Festival at Ascona (Italian-speaking canton of Ticino):
- Festa delle Castagne – Chestnut Festival 2011… at Ascona…
- From Territet to Saint-Gingolph and then Bouveret to Lausanne… by boat…