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The Center for Agroforestry

UMCA News Release

MU Center for Agroforestry makes holiday chestnut roasting easy

December 19, 2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. - "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...." It's a familiar line from a popular wintertime song, but not so many Missourians are familiar with how to go about roasting chestnuts.

A new guide sheet from the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry makes chestnut roasting easy. "Chestnut Roasting 101" lists five simple steps (one of them optional) and the necessary supplies to take the mystery out of a food many people have sung about but few have tried.

"In our experience, nothing draws a crowd like the smoky, sweet smell of fresh roasted chestnuts in the cold months," said Mike Gold, associate director of the Center for Agroforestry. "The best part is that roasting chestnuts is not that difficult. We've broken it down for you to the basics."

Blight in the early 1900s virtually erased the American chestnut tree from the nation's forests. Although the memory remains in song, trees from other parts of the world are bringing the chestnut back to America's dinner and dessert plates.

The Center for Agroforestry has grown the sweet, starchy and versatile Chinese chestnut for more than 10 years at its research farm in New Franklin, Mo., to determine which cultivars grow best in the state. Center employees roast chestnuts at events around mid-Missouri, including the annual Missouri Chestnut Roast, held each October at the New Franklin research farm.

"Chinese chestnuts grow very well in well-drained Missouri soil, especially in the River Hills region," Gold said. "With both good cold-hardiness and tolerance to chestnut blight, Chinese is the best-adapted chestnut for Missouri and surrounding states."

You can download the guide sheet, as well as recipes, nutritional information and more, at

--Michelle Hall
Senior Information Specialist
Center for Agroforestry
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9866

Mike Gold, 573-884-1448

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