A study tour of the American chestnut industry with a focus on peeling equipment, 2007 (CH07001)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
Chestnut production in Australia is increasing and it is essential to boost domestic consumption to ensure the long-term viability of the industry. Value adding may hold the key, providing a use for all chestnuts, including small nuts and those that exhibit poor peelability. Peeling of chestnuts, the removal of the outer shell as well as the inner pellicle is usually one of the first steps in the processing chain. This is not a trivial task.
The American chestnut industry represents an attractive alternative to the European experience, the subject of previous chestnut industry study tours. The American industry is young and quite small; it is in a state of renewal following the demise of the native American chestnut tree population in the early 1900's after introduction of chestnut blight. In contrast to the Australian industry there is a strong focus towards value adding of chestnut products. There has been a concerted effort to tackle the key processing impediment, removal of shell and pellicle. Also the American industry is fortunate to have linkages to chestnut research programs within the University of Missouri and Michigan State University. Importantly the research group based at Michigan State University, in association with the Chestnut Growers Inc cooperative, has procured a chestnut peeling machine (for fresh chestnuts) from Italy. Since 2004 they have experimented with this equipment, adapting it to cope with the vagaries of the varieties, including non-peeling ones, grown in the USA.
John and Heather Kane, ‘Tweenhills Chestnuts’ Hoskinstown NSW, have undertaken a study tour of the American chestnut industry with the following objectives:
- To investigate the chestnut peeling machine operated by Michigan State University
- To develop linkages with scientists working on chestnut-specific projects and to develop networks with American growers
- To attend regional chestnut festivals and sample the value added chestnut products.
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited).
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