You betcha. Some people prefer the flavor of a raw, cured chestnuts to that of cooked. Raw chestnuts are crunchy.
How are they different from horse chestnuts and water chestnuts... ?
Horse chestnuts are not related to real chestnuts. They are poisonous and taste terrible. Horse chestnuts and buckeyes lack the pointed end of a real chestnut.
Water chestnuts are not nuts at all. They are roots or tubers of an aquatic plant.
Why are the chestnuts I find in the grocery store so bad ... ?
Most chestnuts in grocery stores are imported. Although it is sometimes possible to find good imported chestnuts, most imports are poor quality to begin with. Then they are mishandled during shipping and again during storage at the grocery store. By the time you buy them they are usually dried out, moldy, and rotten.
What can I do with chestnuts (besides roasting them over an open fire) ... ?
You can eat them raw or cook them by boiling, steaming, sautéing, or microwaving. You can also dry them to the rock-hard stage and grind them into a sweet flour for even more uses.
For more ideas check out Annie Bhagwandin's book "The Chestnut Cook Book".
They are local to us.
These nuts are from growers in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. We are one of the few coops that will buy chestnuts from growers. This coop, or brokerage, is an easy way for many farmers to sell their nuts without any work on marketing.
If you are interested in seeing if anyone closer to you is growing and selling chestnuts check out the American Chestnut Growers' Association for a list of national growers, or keep looking on the internet.
Chestnuts are easily grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Most of our growers don't use chemicals but only some of them are certified.
If you want certified organically grown chestnuts you will buy a premium. You can email tom at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.