It took a while for chestnuts to start appearing in stores this season, and boy was I getting antsy. I never got to take any chestnuts from the tree I found because they didn’t look good. My mom found some chestnuts at her farmers market and mailed them to me, and they were some of the best I’ve ever had. But I gobbled them up before I could take pictures of them. Here are some I bought at Trader Joe’s, but they aren’t as good. Still better than having no chestnuts though! If you haven’t ever eaten chestnuts, you have to give them a try.
My mom always cooked chestnuts when I was growing up, but I never liked them. I love them now. They taste similar to sweet potatoes, but they are much firmer. When you buy them, store them in an open container in the fridge. Chestnuts have a tendency to get moldy on the inside, and keeping them in a humid environment can exacerbate this problem.
While it’s possible to eat chestnuts raw (and I often eat one or two that way), they are heavenly when cooked. Raw chestnuts are crunchy and crisp, while cooked ones are tender and smell like coziness. To cook chestnuts, preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, make a small X in the flat side of each chestnut with a knife. The cuts allow steam to escape from the chestnuts so they don’t explode in the oven. I also think that making the X on the flat side makes it easier to peel the chestnuts later.
Bake the chestnuts for 15-20 minutes. Usually, my nose knows when the chestnuts are done. It’s the greatest smell. You can also tell when your chestnuts are done because the shells will start to peel back where you made the X, and a knife will easily pierce the inside of the chestnuts.
Chestnuts are easiest to peel when they’re hot. Use a paper towel to hold a chestnut, and use your fingers to crack the shell starting at the X. Once the shell is cracked and off, there might be a brown skin still left on the chestnut. Sometimes it comes of easily, and sometimes it doesn’t. I usually pile my chestnuts into a mug to keep them warm, and I sit with a bowl to crack the shells into it as I peel and eat. The system works! If you knew how many chestnuts I eat a week, I think you’d be shocked. I might be too…
Stella girl loves when I make chestnuts. She is a squash puppy, so it’s no surprise that she goes for chestnuts too. She didn’t get any this time though. Sorry girl. xo