Lower in fat than most nuts, chestnuts have
just 37 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per ounce (cooked). They add
rich, earthy flavor to salads, stuffing and rice dishes. Look for fresh,
unshelled chestnuts in markets from September to February. Around the same
time, you'll find chestnuts in cans, which save time-consuming step of
To choose - Look for plump, firm nuts
with no blemishes on the shell.
To store - Refrigerate in a
zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. Or freeze for up to 5 months.
To roast and peel - Cut in a slit in
the flat part of the shell to prevent the nuts from exploding. Place on a
baking sheet and roast at 400oF for 10 minutes (if peeling
only) for 20 minutes (if you want to cook them all the way through). Using
a kitchen towel or oven mitts, remove and discard the shells and inner
brown skins while the nuts are still hot. (If you let them cool, they are
more difficult to peel). Chop or use as desired.
To boil and peel - Cut a slit in the
shells, place the nuts in a saucepan with water to cover, and bring to a
boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes (to peel only),
or cover and simmer for 25 minutes (to cook until tender). Peel and chop
or use as desired.
To microwave - Cut a slit in the flat
part of the shell. Place the chestnuts in a shallow, microwaveable dish
and cook on high power for 8 minutes per pound of chestnuts. Peel while
To intensify flavor and make texture more
velvety - Cut a slit in the shells, place in a covered casserole dish
with 2 tablespoons water, and bake at 425oF until tender when
pierced with a knife, 30 minutes. Peel while warm.