Chestnuts – Cooking and handling information
To shell chestnuts: Place the chestnuts in boiling water and boil 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off water and leave the them in the saucepan to dry off before shelling. By leaving the pan on low heat and drying chestnuts slightly, the kernels do not crumble upon shelling. With a small knife, take off the shells and thin brown skin. If the skin is stubborn, drop the chestnut back into boiling water for another minute or two; the heat will usually loosen the skin. Discard any chestnuts that are very hard and shriveled.
Roasting chestnuts (oven method): Make a 1/2 inch cut through the shell near the base to keep the nuts from bursting or exploding during roasting, place in a pan and roast in a 400 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes. Remove nuts from oven and place in the folds of a wool cloth to keep them soft while they cool. When nuts are cool, use a small knife to remove shells and brown skins. See these videos: How to Roast Chestnuts: 7 Steps (with Pictures)
Broiling chestnuts in an oven: Rinse and score the shells. Turn the oven on broil and put a rack on the highest level. Put the nuts in a pan cut side up on the top rack. Cook for about 10 minutes, depending on how close they are to the heat, until the shell curls and scorches and the meat begins to turn golden. Don’t let the meat burn.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is a great way to enjoy them. Try them on the barbecue. Or, place 1 layer of nuts in a long-handled pan, a fireplace popcorn popper, fire-safe frying pan, or chestnut roaster. Place over a low fire, balancing utensil on logs; shake often until nuts are mealy in center when broken open, 30 to 35 minutes.
Boiled chestnuts (for 1 pound fresh chestnuts): Using small sharp knife, cut an X in each chestnut. Cook chestnuts in large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Working with batches, use slotted spoon to transfer several chestnuts to work surface. Remove hard shell and papery brown skin while chestnuts are still warm.
Steaming chestnuts: Rinse and score the shells. Start the steamer, and after the water is boiling put the nuts in the steamer compartment. Steam for 15 minutes. They come out nice and soft and moist but they they are a bit harder to peel, and the flavor is not as rich as the dry heat methods.
Microwaving chestnuts. Rinse and score the shells. Set your microwave on 100 percent power, place them on a plate and nuke them for a measly 1 minute or until tender. The exact time may vary from microwave to microwave and depending on how many nuts you are cooking.
To store chestnuts: Because fresh chestnuts have a high moisture content, they are perishable. Vacuum-seal nuts in bags & store in the freezer for up to a year. Nuts can be stored in the refrigerator for several months by keeping them in plastic freezer bags with small venting holes and adding a damp paper towel to help maintain moisture. When frozen, take nuts from freezer and use within 4 hours.
Chestnut buying tips: When purchasing chestnuts at the supermarket, select ones that are plump, heavy, firm to the touch, and with unshriveled, unscarred, uncracked shells that are shiny brown.
To dry chestnuts: Dry in nut dryer or dehydrator until completely dry. Remove shell and inner skin. Store in dry place. To reconstitute, soak overnight in water, and cook 20 to 30 minutes.