To peel fresh chestnuts, first cut them in half or cut a slit in the shell with a knife, then heat them for 5 minutes in boiling water or a in a hot oven (400 degrees F), and remove the shells while the chestnuts are still warm. The inner skin, called the pellicle, can be eaten or removed. Chestnuts require 30-60 minutes cooking time, depending on desired softness. Cooked chestnuts can be pureed in a food processor.
Dried chestnuts must be rehydrated by simmering them in water for 30 minutes before they can be used.
At harvest time, chestnuts have a bland, starchy flavor and a crisp, carrot-like texture (they are about 50% water). As they dry, in a process called "curing", they become softer and some of the starch converts to sugar. At about 30% moisture, they are sweet, soft, and at the best stage to eat. Unfortunately, such cured chestnuts are very susceptible to mold, and should be promptly consumed. Fresh chestnuts should always be refrigerated in order to delay molding. Chestnuts will keep longer in the crispy, high-moisture condition than if they are stored in a cured condition. Another method for long-term storage is to quickly dry the chestnuts down to 15% or less moisture. Dried chestnuts can be stored at room temperature until used.
We ship chestnuts in a crispy, fresh condition. In this condition chestnuts will keep for two months or more in the refrigerator; for long-term storage they should be stored in a thin plastic bag (grocery bag works fine). Before they are at their best for eating, though, they need to dry slightly - either for a few days at room temperature or for a week or so in a mesh bag in the refrigerator.
Click here to visit our recipe page or visit any of the pages listed below.