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Chestnuts in the Erruting qunfang pu 二如亭群芳譜 pt. 1



How to store raw chestnuts

After the frost, pour raw chestnuts into water and remove the floating ones. Drain the rest and wipe [them] dry with a piece of cloth. Sun-dry [them] for a short period of time until all traces of water are gone. Stir-fry [them] in sand[1] until [they are] dry and then allow [them] to cool. Put [them] into a new, oil-free wine jar, alternating a layer of chestnuts and a layer of sand until [the jar] is 80% to 90% full. Tightly wrap [the opening of the jar] with broad bamboo leaves. Sweep a patch of ground clean and put the jar upside down there. Roughly seal [it] with loess and keep [it] away from [other] wine jars. [This method] can preserve [the chestnuts] until the next spring.


Another method: soak one dan[2] of chestnuts and two jin[3]of salt in water over one to two nights. Drain well and sun-dry [them]. Mix [them] with two dan of sesame seeds and put [the mixture] into thorn[-woven] storage. [The chestnuts] will never go bad and are soft and delicious when eaten.



How to store dried chestnuts

After the frost, take one dou[4]of chestnuts that sink in water. Dissolve one jin of salt in the water that should fully cover the chestnuts. After one night, drain well and sun-dry [them]. Put [them] into a bamboo basket or a coarse linen bag, which is to be hung in a well-ventilated place away from sunlight. Shake [them] once or twice every day. [This method] prevents damage, pests and rot until the next spring.

* From Wang Xiangjin 王象晉 (1561-1653), Erruting qunfang pu 二如亭群芳譜 (preface dated 1621), “guopu” 果譜, 3.47a-b.

[1] China has the tradition of using large particles of quartz sand for stir-frying chestnuts. Here’s a short blog explaining how quartz sand compensates for different specific heat capacities and thermal conductivities of traditional iron woks and chestnut shells: [2] During the Ming period, the unit dan 石 was used to measure volume and weight, roughly corresponding to 100 litres and 71 kilograms, respectively. In the current text, it is more likely to be a volume measurement as the next preservation method measures chestnuts in volume. [3] One jin 斤 was about 590 grams at the time. [4] One dou 斗 was about 10 litres at the time.

Autumn delights in the garden

Sand-fried chestnuts are still popular snacks in China; image from wikepedia:


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