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Before blight decimated most of the American chestnut trees in the U.S., one of the great autumn pastimes was collecting the nuts and transforming them into pan-fried bread, porridge, pickles, preserves or cream pie. Timothy Van Vliet/Wikipedia hide caption

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Timothy Van Vliet/Wikipedia

Michigan growers harvest 'Colossal' chestnuts, like the one above in New Paltz, N.Y. "If you're going to work in the kitchen with a pound of chestnut, [the] largest best tasting chestnut you can find is the one you want to use," says MSU plant pathologist Dennis Fulbright. Lee Reich/AP hide caption

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Lee Reich/AP