Imported or domestic: Searching for a high quality chestnut

Buyers of chestnuts often purchase imported chestnuts instead of buying Michigan-grown product. Michigan State University research has found out why that may not be the best choice.

Chestnuts and Christmas go hand-in-hand. Michigan is one of the top five chestnut growing states in the United States and accounts for 50 tons of the domestic supply and growing. The growth of this industry has been cultivated by a unique partnership between Michigan chestnut growers and Michigan State University Extension educators and research faculty.

As this partnership has developed, one MSU Extension educator started to notice that the imported chestnuts, despite their bigger appearance, seemed to be of lesser quality than the domestic supply. Rotten chestnuts seemed to be more prevalent in imported nuts, which led to much discarded product. Over the last two seasons, he decided to put this observation to the test.

The educator gathered both domestic and imported nuts from three chestnut sellers in the Detroit Metropolitan area and compared domestic and imported nuts from each. The educator determined the average weight of the nuts and the average number of rotten nuts. The educator then analyzed the information collected using statistics. The results were striking.

Two years of research on Michigan-grown chestnuts as compared with Italian-grown chestnuts show a statistical increase in rotten Italian imports (average 2.4 rotten per 10 nuts) as compared with Michigan chestnuts (average 1.5 rotten per 10 nuts). Sizing of Michigan chestnuts, however, have proven to be statistically smaller than Italian imports (136.6 g average weight per 10 Michigan chestnuts, 177.4 g average weight per 10 Italian chestnuts). In other words, you get more sound chestnuts per pound when buying domestic.

These findings show that the product Michigan delivers is of higher quality and you get more for your money with Michigan chestnuts.

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