Chestnut Season Is Almost Over!
So I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity with this tasty snack.
Don’t let the hard shell fool you, these guys take less then 10min to cook & are relatively easily to peel as long as you work quickly. The reward, ‘mmmm’… A warm, soft, sweet & fragrant nut, that’s so versatile to use. Whether they’re blended into a velvety sauce, chopped & added to salads or crumble, ground finely into flour or my favourite, cooked over an open fire, peeled & eaten straight of the pan as a warm, healthy snack, your sure to find something for everyone.
I have many fond childhood memories of devouring chestnuts. Each year when in season my parents would often bring bag loads home at a time. Surrounding a large steaming pot, all six siblings would eagerly wait in anticipation of the moment we could break through the once tough shell to reveal the sweet little gems inside. A tradition that I’ve now passed onto my lot.
Like any nut, they are high in fiber, a good source of vitamin C, contain minerals such as potassium, copper and magnesium, amino acids & antioxidants. Chestnut are full of healthy monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats (They’re the good kinds). Compared to some of the more popular nuts available, chestnuts are low GI, low in calories. So all things considered they’re great filling nut to have on your ‘hangry’ snack list!
There are a few ways you can cook these guys including boiling, baking, roasting, grilling & in the microwave. Below I’m going to teach you how…
Based on 500 grams
With a sharp knife, score a cross into the shell, this will help release the hot steam and stop the chestnut from exploding during cooking. I like to score it on the top as it looks so pretty when you see that layer of skin peeling, revealing that golden nut inside.
Place prepared chestnuts into a pot of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the flesh is tender & easily separates from the shell.
Roasting & Grilling
Preheat oven to 200°C (392°F). Place prepared chestnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shells split open.
The above also applies to grilling, though the cook time may increase & your chestnuts will require regular rotation to ensure they are cooked evenly.
Cook Top or Open Fire
Place prepared chestnuts onto a pan over a cook top or open fire. Tossing & stirring a couple of times, for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the shells blacken and split open.
Place 6 to 8 prepared chestnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cook, uncovered, on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until the nut is tender. Timing can vary depending on chestnut size & microwave power.
Peeling is best done while they are hot & after the brown casing has separated from the nut, so work quick, they cool really fast.
Notes & Tips
Cooking time will depend on the qty, so be sure to test one to insure they are not under or over cooked. It’s usually a tell tell sign the chestnuts are ready when the shell peels back along the cross, exposing the nut inside.
The edible part is the smooth yellow nut inside, The fury brown layer is the lining and is not edible. So keep at it with the peeling, lol.
Look for firm chestnuts with a smooth, shiny shell. The deeper & darker the colour, the fresher they will be.
Give the chestnut a bit of a squeeze. If it’s too hard, the nut needs to stand at room temperature to sweeten for a few days. If it’s too soft and hollow, the nut is too old and no good.
You can also do a water test. If it floats, they probably won’t cook well and you’re better off just chucking them away.
To speed cooking time, you can quickly blanch the chestnut for 2 min and pat dry before cooking in the oven, grill or cook top.
For both, roasting and grilling, some say you should put a tea towel over the cooked chestnut and let it steam for 5-10 min before peeling, although I’ve found the chestnut peeled just as easy skipping this part.
If you can’t use chestnut’s straight away, store them in a air tight container in the coldest area of your fridge. They will keep for about 2 weeks.
Unless you’re buying straight from the farm, you’re not going to know how fresh the chestnuts going to be, so best to cook them straight away for maximum enjoyment.
I hope this has inspired you to cook up some lovely chestnuts. If you’re stuck for ideas, I also have a lovely ‘Mushroom, Chestnut & Buckwheat Tart’, that’s dairy, egg & gluten free on the blog, so be sure to check that out.