The seasonal lore of roasting chestnuts is often thought of as a nostalgic Christmastime activity. While these delicious nuts do make for a good treat all on their own, they are also delicious in both sweet and savory recipes. Owners of Gaunt’s Chestnuts (417-736-3810) Don and Vera Gayle Gaunt like to use chestnuts in everything from dessert truffles to soups because of their ability to enhance the flavors of whatever dish they’re added to.
The Gaunts planted their first chestnut trees in 1991 and now have 26 trees in their grove. They sell the chestnuts at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks located in Farmers Park once they start to harvest them in the fall. “They’re really popular in the winter because of the song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Of course, down at the farmers market we don’t do the open fire because we didn’t think the fire department would appreciate that too much,” Vera Gayle jokes.
With each bag of chestnuts purchased, the Gaunts give buyers a brochure featuring recipes and instructions for cooking and taking care of the nuts. They also hand out their phone number so they can further help to educate others. “We love educating people to see how they could be used and it’s really quite interesting to see what people come up with themselves,” she says.
Over their many years of growing and selling chestnuts, the Gaunts have worked to educate and teach many others about chestnuts, from customers, to neighbors, to students, to grandchildren, to people who’ve recently moved to 417-land from other countries. The Gaunts have shared their passion with others in hopes that they would also plant chestnut trees. While their grove is currently one of the oldest chestnut groves in Missouri, they hope to see many other groves come to fruition in 417-land to further share their passion.