At the end of this past growing season, we were blessed with (among other things) a harvest of garlic, apples and chestnuts from Katsumi Farms, (Megan’s parents homestead). With minimal fridge space and an eagerness to learn more about preserving and fermenting stuff, Megan and I decided to try turn them black before they turned bad. Let’s start! To make black chestnuts, black garlic and black apples, we vacuum sealed them in bags and placed them in a dehydrator at 60°C/140°F for 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 8 weeks, respectively.
The black chestnuts were supposed to be fermented for 4 weeks, but unfortunately I left them for a little longer and due to that and the fluctuations in temperature (we don’t have a fancy lab, just an excalibur dehydrator in the basement), the result seemed burnt and very hard. They had a slight caramel flavour which we didn’t mind but the texture overall was way too tough. Megan and I both agreed the best way to have chestnuts moving forward is to just roast them over a fire. We still have some left in the freezer and will definitely try to do it again since I want to try making a candied black chestnut.
The black garlic was pretty straightforward. We’ve done it before and we like it! We make it and gift it to people.
The apples were the most interesting one of the three. The result has a subtle caramel flavour and the texture is like mush, so be gentle when handling it. We also took it once step further by dehydrating without the vacuum bag overnight at a low setting and yield a chewy product similar to a dried fruits like figs and apricot. I recently used some of it in a hamachi/apple course for our Christmas dinner, and I look forward to trying out more recipes with them.