Selecting and Preparing Chestnuts
- If you wish to cook chestnuts yourself, be sure that you buy only very fresh chestnuts.
They should feel heavy in your hand and not rattle about in their shell.
Chestnuts tend to go bad - rapidly growing moldy and wormy.
- Chestnuts have a hard outer shell and a thin inner skin, both of which you need to remove in order to eat them.
It is easier to remove these when the chestnuts are hot.
- You always need to pierce the shell before cooking, otherwise pressure will build up in the nut and they will explode.
- Roasting chestnuts - Just like in the Christmas song, learn how to cook chestnuts over an open fire for a fun family activity.
You will need a special long handled chestnut roasting pan or popcorn popper to do this.
Using a sharp knife, cut an X through the shell of each chestnut.
Place in the pan and roast for about 20 minutes, tossing and turning the pan occasionally.
- Baking chestnuts - This gives similar results to roasting but requires no special equipment.
Simply slit the shells with an X and place on baking tray.
Bake at 375° F for about 20 minutes.
If you wrap the chestnuts in a dishtowel while they are still hot, this can make shelling them easier.
- Boiling chestnuts - Boiling chestnuts is a good option if you are planning on using them in a recipe.
You can cut the chestnuts in two and make sure they are good before boiling.
Place the chestnuts in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.
Boil for five minutes or until the chestnuts are done as you wish (this depends somewhat on the size and what recipe you are using them in).
Shell and peel the chestnuts under cold running water while they are still hot (you may want to wear gloves).
Even if you don't learn how to cook chestnuts, do try using some of the great chestnut products available on the market to add this interesting food to your life.
- Roasted chestnuts - You can buy jars of roasted chestnuts ready to use.
Add these to soups, stews, steamed vegetables, or just enjoy them straight from the jar.
- Chestnut puree - This comes in both sweetened and unsweetened preparations depending on how you would like to use it.
- Chestnut flour - This is an excellent product for people on gluten free diets.
Adds an interesting dimension to cakes, breads, crepes, and other baked goods.